Good morning and happy Monday all.
Like last week, I again struggled with my search for an insightful quote, an encouraging word, a message of hope, an actionable idea, and/or a message worthy of a few precious minutes of your valuable time this morning.
Mark Twain must have had 2020 in mind when he penned the quote above. It is my observation that too many of us are communicating “at each other” and too precious few are having conversations “with each other” resulting in mostly unheard, useless, and maybe even destructive noise.
“Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
We must communicate in ways which will draw people into the conversation, not push them away or escalate defensiveness and emotional divisiveness. When we get angry or overly emotional, we forget a foundational principal coined by Stephen R. Covey, “If you want to be understood, seek first to understand.” Isn’t that what we all want, to be understood, valued, and appreciated?
I once reported to a senior executive who would frequently boast about his “open door policy” and his willingness to discuss any topic at any time. The curious thing was, almost no one ever went through his open door, mostly because they were afraid of who he was as a person. And, if they went through his door once, they rarely did it a second time, at least by their own initiative. His office guests quickly learned that even though his door was open, his mind rarely was.
Here are some ideas and practices for you to consider when communicating this week:
- Remember, communicating is not just taking turns to speak!
- Listening to understand is vastly different than listening to respond, argue or debate.
- Ask questions and listen to the answers. If someone expresses an opinion that is different than your own, invite them to explain the experiences behind their opinion. Ask them to consider being a teacher, to help you learn, appreciate, and understand. Again, do not judge; listen.
- Utilize an “explorer’s mindset” which means to see yourself as a student trying to learn more about others, and their life experiences which are different than your own.
- Seek wisdom not correctness.
- Avoid certainty in your language and tone. Allow that you may not have considered all perspectives or that you may have an incomplete view of the situation.
- Relax. Recognize when you are becoming tense, defensive, or uptight.
- Do not raise your voice, in fact, sometimes speaking more quietly causes people to listen to you and your point of view even more closely and respond in kind.
- Actively express empathy for others. Be an ally for others.
- Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.
Think of wisdom as a large pool of collective understanding amongst a group of people. We want, and need, people to add their experiences and knowledge to the community pool which is of benefit to all. When thinking about that pool, are you acting and communicating in a way that encourages people to add their insights, experiences, and wisdom? Or are you acting and communicating in a way that encourages people to abandon the pool, or worse yet, poison the pool? What are your personal contributions to the pool? Wisdom? Poison? How do you know?
If you have been reading my missives for any length of time, you know I am frequently challenging us to be our “best selves.” Right now, the world needs each of us, and all of us, to be our “best selves.” Unfortunately, when we get overly emotional, we are rarely at our best, especially when attempting to communicate. For understandable reasons, these are very emotional times in our country.
It certainly has been an emotional weekend for our family. Last night, we learned a family friend lost another family member to COVID-19, the second in less than a month; first his mom in early June and yesterday a brother, a previously healthy young man of 35 leaving behind an 8-year old son. An uncle remains in the hospital fighting for his life in Houston.
I hope you and your family make it through this pandemic without losing a family member, friend, or anyone close. I also hope you have not been financially impacted in any way. If possible, let us work together to find a way to help those who have.
Thank you for choosing to read this missive. Be safe. Be healthy. Choose to be your “best self” and lead others, not back to normal, but forward to better. We can do better. And we will.
How will you love, live or lead differently, or better this week?
Do you know someone who might benefit from this weekly leadership minute? If so, please feel free to pass along the subscription link below:
- “We put little effort into real listening, we just take turns talking.” – Bob Conklin
- “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” – Galileo Galilei
- “Everyone hears only what he understands.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” – Dale Carnegie
- “Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.” – Richard Bach
- “The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather what he does not say.” – Kahlil Gibran
- “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you” – Dale Carnegie