Make it Safe to Discover Real Issues

“One of the best ways to persuade others is with our ears-by listening to them.” -Dean Rusk

How many times have you been running a meeting at work or talking with your child and have asked for feedback and only received silence in return? When someone does speak up and you don’t want to hear what is shared, how have you reacted? How safe do you make it for your people or kids to respond?  When you have asked for feedback have you shut them down?

As a parent, when your child trusts that you will hear them and shares what is really going on in their life, isn’t it easier to guide them and coach them to make the best decisions for them?

When starting on a new team in my past I was given the advice, “you will do fine with this manager as long as you don’t challenge her/him.”  If that is the motto, how is the organization to grow if new ideas and alternative views and ways of doing things aren’t being shared?  How will there ever be innovation?  It benefits a leader to understand the real issues on the front line so it can prepare the company for the future battlefield.

If you are like most people, when we believe in something with passion, it is hard to keep an open mind.  In the book New York Times Best Seller “Crucial Conversations Tools for talking when stakes are high”, the Authors say, “when you have a tough message to share or when you are convinced of your own rightness that you may push too hard.”  They teach to STATE your path:

• Share your facts. Start with the least controversial, most persuasive elements from the Path to Action.

• Tell your story. Explain what you’re beginning to conclude.

• Ask for others’ paths. Encourage others to share both their facts and their stories.

• Talk tentatively. State your story as a story – don’t disguise it as a fact.

• Encourage testing. Make it safe for others to express differing or even opposing views.”

The authors advise to catch yourself when you get emotionally charged in order to get others to share their own beliefs, buy into yours and prevent others from becoming defensive.  “Back off your harsh and conclusive language, not your belief.  Hold to your belief; merely soften your approach.” Authors: Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

If you struggle in this area, I highly recommend putting “Crucial Conversations” on your reading list!

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