“Feel free to openly share your problems with me.”
“Don’t come to me with a problem. I’m only interested in solutions!”
Have you ever received a mixed message like this? How did it make you feel?
Confused? Frustrated? Angry?
If you felt any of those, you’d be FULLY justified.
Mixed messages can cause confusion, frustration and worse.
Mostly, they make clarity impossible. Without clarity, nothing works.
If you want to lead change, inspire others to action and help your team perform at its best, your communication has to be CRYSTAL CLEAR (especially when virtual!).
Inspired by the writings of my Gestalt teacher Paul Barber, here are 4 simple guidelines to make your communication clear and avoid unnecessary conflicts:
- Clarify your intention – be clear if you are supporting, challenging or seeking clarification.
- Make direct statements – be specific; simplify statements, don’t elaborate.
- Ask ‘how’ rather than ‘why’ – ask others to share their observations rather than explain their reasons.
- Engage in dialogue – speak directly to others (avoid speeches, monologues, etc.).
Clarify Your Intention Up Front
By clarifying your intention, your communication will leave no room for misinterpretation. Nor conflict.
But if you want to be clear to others, you have to be clear with yourself FIRST.
After all, if it’s not clear to you how can it be clear to someone else?
If not always sure of your intention, these 3 simple questions will help you clarify it:
- Am I lecturing about “what ought to be” rather than dealing with what is right now?
- Am I pretending that I’m looking for information when I really want to make a statement?
- Am I broadcasting into the air rather than speaking directly with people?
Thanks for the guidance and inspiration, Paul!
The Most Important Exchange Ever
Do you have a team where a conflict is starting to grow? Or are misunderstandings a constant reality of your teamwork?
Whether you want to improve collaboration with one or multiple work relationships, the most important and most effective thing you can do with that person/s is to exchange this 1 simple question and 1 clear statement:
Q: What do you need and expect from me?
S: This is what I need and expect from you:
What makes this so important?
It cuts to the essential. It leaves no room for blame or finger-pointing. No room for misunderstanding or resulting conflict.
By executing this 2-step expectations exchange, you promote 3 MUST-HAVE characteristics for effective team communication: DIRECT. CLEAR. OPEN.
After all, without open lines of communication there can be no real collaboration.
Take Action Today
Of course you can’t control how the people around you communicate. Hidden agendas are a part of every team and organization, unfortunately.
However, by modelling this communication style with your collaborators, you can inspire them to do the same.
Furthermore, by applying a few of these clarifying tips and questions, you can stop conflict before it begins.