How we talk at work
For example, a “default to open” leadership approach allows for upwards feedback to keep leaders accountable and connected with the rest of the organization.
2. Support team communication by respecting different perspectives and understanding individual motivations
How do we make it easy for everyone to speak and contribute, rather than leaving it to the leaders to drive conversation? Holding space without judgement for employees to freely share ideas allows them to be innovative knowing that they’re supported through obstacles.
Kristen shares that her organization maintains a purposeful “conscious conflict code” that outlines keeping conversations generative even through the anticipation of disagreements. By establishing that all teammates are working towards the same goal, we allow participants to fully engage in the conversation consciously and respectfully.
Pro tip: Always set out the expectations and outcomes of a meeting. Use standardized agendas to get everyone on the same page, and be mindful of inclusivity in communications. Rotate turns being the facilitator to create a sense of shared responsibility. Not only does this emphasize closer connection and ownership, it also helps eliminate gender and racial biases.
3. Managing difficult conversations: always adopt forward-looking feedback and question models
Do you find yourself always dreading the feedback rounds during annual reviews and 1:1s? It doesn’t always have to be that way. Instead, you can look at it as a growth opportunity.
By intentionally choosing our words, we can use questions to reflect and seek solutions moving forward. The key is less about proving yourself, but putting more focus on ways to improve.
Pro tip: It’s important to have regular two-way feedback and ask yourself the following questions beforehand:
- Is this feedback generally helpful to move the needle forward?
- Can I give this feedback to highlight positive action steps?
- Am I ready to have this conversation without demeaning the person?
- Am I in the right mindspace for a genuine and effective conversation?
4. Mindful listening plays an integral role in fruitful conversations
It’s not just about being selective with your words, but listening with intent. By focusing on the speaker then following up with your own takeaways, a feedback loop helps ground both parties and keep them on the same page. Self-awareness also plays a huge role in our quality of conversations.
A challenge for you: Moving forward, how can you be intentional to improve the way you speak at work?
Take it slow. These practices all take time and work—it’s one thing to understand a concept intellectually, and another to actually engage with the complex experience of learning and unlearning.
Not all of this comes naturally to us, and it definitely takes great effort to master and act in accordance with these practices. Some of us are fortunate that our workplaces provide opportunities and resources for us to do so; others will have to rely on leaders to really step up with humility and vulnerability.
A big thank you to our guests, Angie and Kristen, and all participants who shared their time and ideas with us! It was a truly engaging and interactive experience. Check out the recording and let us know if you have any additional thoughts on the topic in the comments below.
We all have a voice and we’d love to hear yours. Tune into our next session on speaking out about racism at work by registering here.