Communication is a team sport and requires skill to connect with other people. It takes active listening and even participation. Build rules like the ones below to create standards that everyone can agree with and support. Then post them where everyone can see and be reminded (maybe on the boardroom table or as a screen saver).
Practice These Behaviors
- Turn off electronics to be respectful and present.
- Be aware of your body language and what triggers so you stay open.
- Be authentic, but be kind. Judge the subject, not the person.
- We is more important than I.
- Listen actively to understand and ask great questions to clarify.
- Have empathy and realize that not everyone communicates clearly.
- Reframe back to them what you heard.
- Debate proactively and positively.
- Be specific about what you want or need.
- Don’t try to be right and be willing to hear “NO”.
- Conflict is a place for curiosity. It is ok to call a time out.
- Take responsibility for your emotions.
Avoid These Behaviors
- Refuse to change.
- Act inconsistently with one’s words.
- Attack on personal matters.
- Listen subjectively.
- Dominate the discussion.
- Respond with negative emotions.
- Take things personally.
Our success with communication generally relies on us managing our own emotions and actions. If we get triggered and cannot handle that, it will spiral the conversation and prevent you from truly understanding the other person. At the same time, it takes practice. So be kind to yourself as you try to practice new skills. Remember what your intentions are and try to always stay on the positive side. You don’t need to change who you are to have a great conversation even when you disagree.