I simply love the Crucial Conversations book that covers how to have any conversation and respond to any reaction, while you stay true to yourself and enhance safety and respect in the relationship.
Conversations are often difficult when stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong. Most people avoid them or don’t handle them well, resulting in the silence or violence I discussed before. In a dialogue, on the other hand, information flows freely. You deal with the issue and keep the relationship well. You don’t have to choose between “task and person” but you can have them both.
When a conversation feels awkward, emotional, charged, and you see others masking, avoiding, withdrawing, controlling, labeling, attacking, getting hesitant or distrustful: it is time to shift from “what” is being said to “how”.
It is important to respond to these signs of silence and violence because it means people don’t feel safe. Addressing the “how” takes practice but if you do, it can make the situation safe again.
Learn how to deal with your own ‘monsters’
There’s nothing as scary as an unknown monster under the table. It’s always better to look it in the eye so you can deal with it. With meta-communication (talking about the communication) you put the monster on the table. Often, after some inspection, it turns out to be an inflated mouse – but it felt like a huge elephant in the room.
Safety is a property of social space where it is okay to “expose” yourself: your intentions, ideas, emotions, doubts, questions, needs, troubles. It is okay to take an interpersonal risk. There won’t be sanctions like negative judgments, losing face, being ridiculed or excluded.How do you deal with your monsters? What do you tend to do? Click To Tweet
You need safety for people to stay open and to contribute to the “flow of dialogue”. Without safety, parts of the information and energy in the organization will be blocked and hoarded for protection.It is slowing everybody down and negatively impacting innovations, change, the quality of decisions and production.
Respond to restore safety
Even though this sounds serious (and it is), you can restore safety and go back to congruent communication. The key is to verbalize what you see and feel. “Putting the monster on the table” by naming it.
If you share what you experience, you are being transparent and honest. You take the ambiguity, the incongruence, the uncertainty out of the room. You contribute to clarity and that releases negative tension. You put your cards on the table and show that you’ve got nothing to hide, plus: you want everyone to win from that monster.
In the next post, let’s see how to address monsters.
What is you experience with monsters? What do you tend to do?
This is book post #57 – Part “YOU”
By the way, if you want to contribute to a positive workplace culture, my next open workshop on Positive Culture Change Leadership is scheduled for May 2018! More information and registration is available at a first come first serve basis.
Copyright © Marcella Bremer 2017. All rights reserved.
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