During work discussions with our colleagues — when we are debating issues and making choices about things like strategy, policy or design — many (perhaps most) conversations come down to the following choice: Which is more important? “Winning” the discussion or maintaining functional dialogue with our colleagues?
In other words, when we are debating the path forward, we often need to manage how strongly we feel about our position or proposed solution. When we are having substantive, work-related conversations with our colleagues, there almost always comes a point when we have to make a choice:
Choice #1 is to focus on hearing the ideas of the other person, validating what we hear, asking questions, engaging… in other words, connecting with the other person and what they are saying.
Choice #2 is to focus on our own idea, the point we want to make, disagreeing with what we have already heard and somehow correcting it to strengthen our own position.
Sure, I am simplifying to make my point. And sure the choice here is not always this clear cut. But there are many times in our workplace discussions when this choice is staring us in the face… Am I going to prioritize connecting with the other person, or correcting something they said and trying to “win.”
When we prioritize connection over correction, we are making a powerful choice, one that builds the relationship and opens the lines of communication. This doesn’t mean you can never make your point, that you can never disagree, that you can never correct something that has been said. But it does mean that when we prioritize connection we are building a long-term dialogue, a relationship that is based on listening and respect. When we prioritize connection we are increasing the chances that when an important moment comes along and we DO have something to say, our history of connection will make it even more likely that we will be heard.
When we do the other thing, and focus on correction over connection, we may have the best ideas in the world, but eventually the people around us will tire of our communication style.
The best communicators, in my experience, build their style on a foundation of connection first. They listen, they validate, they ask questions, they encourage. And when the moment comes that they have something to say, they are able to make their point clearly and directly. But because of the foundation of connection they have built, whatever point they want to make, whatever correction is coming out of their mouth, is much more likely to be heard.
Good luck, and have a great day!
Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?
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