Know your intention and set your goals beforehand. Take a moment and think about your approach to important meetings and what you want to achieve. Choose the outcome that you want, recognising that, if you don’t make a conscious choice, you will make an unconscious choice and the outcome could be very different from what you consciously wanted.
If we are willing to accept that we always have something to learn, about ourselves, the other person or the situation at hand, then there is value in every contribution. We learn from each other by recognising this, if what is being said seems wholly irrelevant, ask yourself (lightly) what the significance is for you.
To bridge any problems we are asked to be physically, emotionally and mentally present.
If we maintain a distance from others, any communication will feel to them as an attack, and they will respond as if they have been attacked. It is essential to close the distance between ourselves and others so our communication can be effective. Once we have had the courage to close the distance then we can say anything to the other person and they, not being in reaction, will typically respond in a more positive manner.
By “closing the distance” what is meant is to really engage with the other person as a human being, to focus on them with compassion and understanding, to be genuinely interested in them and how they are doing.
We are totally responsible for our emotional state. Take charge of your emotions. If, when you are feeling bad you don’t move towards change, you will act immaturely. Your emotions are not caused by others; they were already present in you, just waiting to be triggered. Your emotions, if left unexamined, become a form of emotional blackmail and attack. Even if you appear to win the battle by controlling others, you will ultimately lose the war as the pain you put off will grow, and will have to be dealt with eventually.
Only no-fault communication is effective. Everybody has to be included in the solution. There is always a win/win solution. Where we engage in blame there cannot be a win/win situation because the blame makes someone feel they are wrong, they feel like there is a win/lose, and they have just lost. As soon as the blame starts, effective communication ends and the power struggle is only a matter of time away. No one likes to feel like they will lose and, when people do, they attack, withdraw or become passively aggressive—all of which undermines a team or group.
Think of a recent occasion when you blamed someone for something and how successful (or otherwise) the communication was.
Like attracts like, if we attack someone then we are asking to be attacked, if we are communicating with someone at a different level of the organisation, the attack may not be immediate and direct but it will happen. Any defence tends to draw attack towards it.
Keep communicating until there is resolution. This is achieved through continuing to communicate openly, honestly and without blame.
Resolution occurs when all parties get what they want. This is what is meant by win/win.
With compromise some people, if not everyone, will feel as if they have lost. Each party gives up some of their position. In resolution all the elements are valued and the win/win is created, in resolution the answer may be entirely different from either person’s starting point or it may contain elements of both.
If, as an authority figure, you take a bazooka approach and blow people out, then team members will stop contributing out of fear, and problems will not be aired resulting, sooner or later, in a damaging situation that could have been avoided.
If we insist on being right, we cannot change and the situation will not move forward
Surrender, listen and learn. Surrender does not mean that we give in or give up our position; it simply means that we are prepared to be open to at least the possibility that we have something to learn from the other person. If this were not true there would be no point in communicating at all, which is how a lot of “communication” works out.
Whatever you are feeling, or whatever the other person is feeling, recognise that it’s the same for both of you. As you communicate further using these principles, you will begin to see the truth of this concept. Some people deny their feelings (pretend they are not there) some seem to exaggerate them; an individual’s style does not change how they are feeling only the presentation of this. Expressing appreciation helps to end conflict and power struggles because people feel heard and valued, this will always help towards the win/win solution.
Obviously these principles cannot be practised in isolation from one another, our withholds, our hidden grievances and judgements, can be the source of our greatest steps forward; as long as we remember that how we feel is not someone else’s fault. Sharing what is really going on for you is a powerful way to strengthen a relationship and to find solutions that work for everybody. If we hold something back then that element will not be included in the solution.
It is easy to accept that we are accountable for our own behaviour, though even this we often try to blame on others. In Module 6 we will focus on the principle of accountability but for the present consider how your tone, body language and the language you employ affects the response and recognise that at the very least we heavily influence how people react to us.
Interruption stops communication.
We interrupt because we cannot stand the feeling coming up in us. We may be feeling defensive or attacked, either way, we cannot listen to another when we are talking or trying to talk. If we do not listen then we will not learn.
© 2006 Psychology of Vision UK