Conducting a conversation with someone we don’t feel at ease with, can have us feeling a little rattled and unnerved. We wonder how the other person will respond to us, and we might feel apprehensive.
Many clients tell me that they regularly have interactions with their boss(es) and co-workers that have them feeling uncomfortable, and wondering how they can – or could have – better handle those situations.
How do you know if you’re communicating what you really want to communicate?
One of the most important things to do when you know there’s possible tension or ambiguity in any given relationship – and/or the communication between you and another – is to become clear in yourself about what’s happening for you with this person. Spend some time understanding what you see as your role in the relationship, and in the communication. Then look at the other person’s role, as well.
Author Stephen Covey suggests, “Seek to understand, then be understood.” There are several questions to ask yourself: Where/how are you judging the other person and what does your judging language sound like? How does this impact what you think about this other person, and then how do you behave because of these thoughts? What are your expectations of the other person? Have you actually stated your expectations, or are you silently and non-verbally communicating these? What might you have been avoiding in this situation?
Approaching a co-worker, boss (or anyone else, for that matter) with clear intention is key to clean communication with another person. Start your conversations with what you appreciate about the other person and what they’ve been bringing to the situation; what’s been working. Proceed with other points from there. Everyone needs more appreciation and encouragement!
Need buy-in from someone? Know what’s important to that person; what will help them to be influenced by you to agree to what you want to do. Do your homework to understand as much as you possibly can so that the other person understands how he or she will benefit from your idea. Need to work together on something but haven’t gotten off to a good start? Apologize and admit to your part in the situation. Establish a level playing field of humanity so that you have the opportunity to establish trust…the sort of trust that encourages giving the benefit of the doubt to each other.
Most of us are so busy trying to be sure that we make our own points in a conversation, that we don’t focus enough on the person who’s speaking. Tuning in to others as they speak, giving them your full attention. This goes a long way in helping someone feel heard and seen – something most of us are really yearning for. Be sure that you understood what was being expressed by going over their talking points. And not to state the obvious, but…eye contact, an open posture and smiling, all help to create a collegial interaction.
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