Speak honestly and clearly in a way that moves the action forward. Say what you mean. Ask questions for clarity, share ideas and be willing to raise issues, even if they may create conflict, when it is needed for success or maintaining collaboration.
A large portion of our work at Momentum Consulting is coaching executives, managers and teams on how to build, or sometimes re-build, trust between themselves. One of the ways we do this is using communication tools based on ownership-accountability combined with a spirit of partnership and collaboration. Over twenty years, working with numerous organizations, we have confirmed it is nearly impossible to effectively speak straight in a respectful manner without some type of generous listening happening on the other end. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, in our opinion, you can’t have one without the other.
Before diving head first into speaking straight respectfully, ask yourself this question: Are you dealing with a work culture in which it’s okay to speak up? If not, this is something that can be intentionally created and developed, and it always has to start at the very top of an organization. If you have a role in leadership, you not only have to give people permission to speak up and give feedback, you actually have to ask for it. And you better be willing to listen generously, or don’t bother.
At any level of an organization, when it comes to raising issues or holding someone accountable for their impact on you, it can be uncomfortable. So, it’s useful to spend a few minutes and prepare what you would like to say. Here are a few pointers:
Start with your commitment to the person, the department, and to the outcome of the conversation, with an intention to forward the action.
State the facts of the situation. Separate the facts from your interpretation.
Share the impact the situation or their behavior has had on you. Frame what you have to say from your own perspective and point-of-view. Be authentic and believe it or not, you can’t lose if you speak straight from the heart. It helps them to listen generously, especially if they have had an unintended impact on you.
Leave the conversation with a resolution. It may not be fully resolved, just start somewhere and go from there. You may have to make a request or two and possibly negotiate some new promises between each other.
If you are someone who finds yourself tolerating behaviors that don’t work or avoiding having these types of conversations, you may want to ask yourself, what stops you? And even more importantly, what does it cost you not to?
All my best,