In order to have good communication in relationships, you need to create a safe environment where all are comfortable enough to be honest and speak their minds without fear of repercussion.
We have many different relationships:
Whether we like it or not, relationships require work. Each has a different dynamic. It’s ironic that we typically give a lot of attention to building romantic relationships that lead to developing family and friends. When we start a new business, we work hard to develop relationships with our clients to further our goals and objectives. We develop relationships with our co-workers and employees to achieve combined goals and objectives.
Over time, we often become complacent, or lazy, in relationships and forget the importance of good communication. We start to expect people to just understand. When we reach that time that we recognize a problem, do we make communication safe?
Communication Ground Rules
- Shut up and listen.
- Do NOT judge.
- Seek understanding. (That means questions without judgement!)
- Watch your mouth. (I recommend reading the “Secret Language of Leadership by Stephen Denning.)
- Watch your body language. (See point #2.)
Often, people that think they are great communicators are actually the worst. They think they communicate more because they always hear themselves talking. Truly effective communicators do far more listening. Have you ever caught yourself thinking “this is nuts and makes no sense at all”? We make judgements because we either are so focused on being right or we don’t understand the other person’s perspective. Take the time to understand the other perspective and you may even find yourself taking the other side. That’s OK!
Watch Your Mouth
Words matter. We understand the words we hear because we frame the context with our experiences. For example: “Well, that really blew up in my face!” may mean a work project failed badly to you but someone from a war torn country may subconsciously relate that to a very physical memory and produce such a strong reaction that they miss some of the message while they process their feelings. While you may have been acknowledging an error you made, you may have triggered a “fight or flight” reaction in someone else.
Be Aware Of Your Body Language
Words are important but is your body language congruent with your words? Your conscious mind will tell you that you are willing to hear the other person’s point of view but your subconscious mind may well send a different message through your body. Is your body tense? Are your arms folded across your chest? Although your words are telling the other person you are willing to hear their perspective, your body just told them you are ready to pounce and not really receptive to what they have to say. Again, I recommend Stephen Denning’s “Secret Language of Leadership”.
Make it Safe
In an ideal world, take your critical conversations to a neutral environment. Try to find a place that isn’t perceived as being one person’s domain. If there are tables, try to make sure they are round. Regardless of the shape of the table, ensure there isn’t the perception of a position of power. For example, if it’s a boardroom situation, put people in positions of authority on the long side, not at the “head” of the table.
Communication is difficult at the best of times. Are you really open? Pay attention to the other people and be aware of their reactions to you and your words. Cede control of the situation to someone else so that all can feel safe and not be as wary of how “the boss” is going to react.
Show me you value my input. Help me feel safe enough to express myself without fear of repercussion.
Make it a great day!
P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for honest input. I’m thankful for my ears. I’m thankful for you.
What are you thankful for today?
Please share ... by