Have you ever needed to talk with someone at work or in your personal life about an important topic, but hesitated to do so out of intimidation or fear of what they might say? We’ve all been there —it’s not the best feeling—but there are strategies to move past such uncertainty to have more impactful and candid discussions. In recognition of Better Conversations Week (the third week of November), we’re focusing on how individuals can work to have more open, honest and meaningful dialogues with people in their lives.
Video calls and working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic have made it easier for people to shy away from difficult discussions at work or school, though these conversations remain as important as ever. Just because people may not be physically in the same place doesn’t mean that honest exchanges can’t occur. Coaching and leadership development is in our DNA, and we’re always ready to help you take the next step in having more meaningful conversations.
Listen and Learn
The importance of listening can’t be overstated—taking the time to completely focus on a person’s unique perspective can lead to more nuanced conversations both in the moment and over the long run.
This is called “active listening,” and it’s much different than the passive act of just “hearing” what a person has to say. When actively listening, it’s important to maintain eye contact and give cues (like a smile!) to the speaker to let them know you’re paying attention. After the person is finished speaking, make sure to seek clarification on anything they said by asking questions, while also reiterating key points. Remember, you can’t actively listen until you cut out distractions—whether that’s email, social media or even the thoughts in your own head.
Listening and having tough conversations is one of the aspects we focus on in our Personal & Executive “Next Level” Coaching program. For more than three decades, we have helped thousands of organizational leaders work on important facets of management such as listening to help them fulfill their true potential. Want to learn more about how to become a better listener and communicator? Beginning in January 2022, we’re launching a 12-week, three-part Leadership Training Webinar Series in which February’s lesson will focus on “Why Communication & LISTENING are More Important than Ever.”
The Give and Take of Feedback
Feedback can be one of the more difficult aspects of any conversation—whether you’re giving or receiving it. But as uncomfortable as feedback can be, it is an important step in personal and professional development.
If you’re on the receiving end of feedback, it’s important to stay honest with yourself as to what you can improve. Listen closely to what the person with feedback has to say, be respectful and take recommendations in stride. If you do, you might find more constructive feedback coming your way! Our 360 Degree Review helps to give an employee the opportunity to take independent and anonymous feedback from their team, which can help increase self-awareness and accountability.
Giving feedback can be difficult as well, since many of us do not want to hurt another person’s feelings. But as our president, Ross Giombetti wrote: “The fact remains if you don’t provide your team the feedback necessary for them to improve and get better, you’re hurting them.”
It’s important to approach giving feedback in a way that is kind but fair. Such conversations can be difficult but opening a line of communication could make feedback discussions easier to approach in the future—leading to better conversations overall. The final part of our Leadership Training Webinar Series, “How to Effectively Deliver & Receive Feedback,” will help provide the tools necessary for giving and taking important feedback.
If you are interested in learning more about how to have better conversations—or if you would like to hear about how we help develop high-performance people and businesses—please reach out.