Communication is a double edged sword that is often difficult to make sense of, particularly when we are in the middle of a “stressful” situation.
It’s sometimes hard to remember that the way we communicate can provide a positive function as well as a negative one, for example we may say something that sounds quite positive in our head but once the recipient hears the comment they completely overreact. In this situation it is easy to become defensive and have an equally strong reaction.
Let’s be honest, we have all worked or currently work with people we may not gel with, people who’s views or character don’t align with our own. The first thing to keep in mind here is that it is ok for some constructive conflict or clashing of opinions, providing the motivation stems from a positive place in each of the parties involved. In this case a win/win can often be found.
In a situation where a win/win cannot be found then it is often useful to set the discussion aside temporarily until a holistically positive outcome can be achieved.
Naturally there are certain circumstances that require us to “deal with” or accept our limited or nonexistent control of a decision or process and in this situation it is vital that Leaders facilitate open and clear communication with everyone involved both directly and indirectly.
We can consider this an exercise because the more you mindfully communicate, the better you get at it. Equally if you communicate mindlessly then you will exercise and develop your skill in this area.
Some useful exercises in communication are:
When communicating, whether it be vertically or horizontally, we must practice and execute active listening.
Make eye contact, listen to the words, understand the message behind the words and watch the body language of the person delivering the message.
Asking clarifying questions
We often speak up when we don’t hear someone but how often do you speak up when you don’t understand someone?
Paraphrase and repeat the message back in your own words to see if you really do understand, which also shows the messenger that you are listening, encouraging them to partake in a mutually agreeable conversation.
Consider your delivery and responses BEFORE saying them out loud
It’s important that we think before we speak.
Consider how it would feel to be on the other end of the conversation.
Practising mindfulness with the words we use, the tone we deliver with and the body language we show.
Check out our article on breathing and adrenal control for more tips…