You’re at work and the person you’re talking to continues to text away without a stop. How do you respond authentically to this situation? You could just stop talking as a hint to the person to stop texting or tell them that you’ll wait until they’re done.
But why not talk about what’s going on? Why not have a quick open conversation so that both people get clarity and mutual understanding about what’s happening and then decide how to proceed?
If we want to have effective communication at work and have mutual understanding, then being authentic is essential.
What is being authentic?
It’s a fundamental support tool for helping your staff understand goals, intentions, and the strategies for achieving those goals. It’s the great confusion buster because when we say what we think and what we know, we always create greater clarity.
When we’re authentic in our communication at work, we’re basically saying, “This is what I think, this is what needs to be done, this is where we are heading, and this is what I see happening”. We say what we think instead of pushing it down or scaring ourselves into not talking.
In addition to what we say, it involves how we speak to each other and through what medium. In today’s world of texting, e-mails, and social media, are we communicating more authentically or are we avoiding key conversations that would require us to be more open and honest with each other?
Does this mean we say everything?
At this point you might be thinking, “Do you really mean say everything I think”? Saying everything you think is not necessary for good communication at work. Instead, it’s about saying what needs to be said regarding the project you’re working on, the deadlines that aren’t being met, or the poor work that comes across your desk that you spend hours fixing to cover for others.
It’s also commending those that are doing great, pointing out what’s working well, and giving open encouragement to those who need it.
You might be skeptical at this point about whether or not this type of communication at work is useful and if it really works. I’ve seen it in action over and over again with hundreds and hundreds of people and it works beautifully.
But there is one caveat to include here that will be the basis for making authenticity one of your most useful tools for effective communication at work.
There is a particular attitude that allows us to ask anything with a gentle curiosity. This attitude allows us to listen without taking offense or feeling hurt. It is the attitude that allows us to say anything knowing that it comes from a place of wanting the best for all.
What is this attitude?
- It starts by being present. Being completely in the moment with the person(s) you’re talking to and listening to what they have to say
- It’s dropping any unfavorable, blaming type of judgments towards the other person as you listen
- It’s being curious and open to the other person’s intention with a willingness to understand them
- It’s wanting the best for them and the situation
This all is starting to sound like a listening perspective rather than learning how to speak authentically. YES – the attitude starts before you even open your mouth. You are creating an internal place from which to engage so that when you do communicate you will be completely comfortable, and therefore digestible to the other person.
You’re creating an environment that I’m going to call a “safe space”. A safe space to speak from and a safe space to use as an invitation for others to speak openly as well.
What can happen from this environment?
- You can say something to someone so that they hear you and don’t go nuts (like asking them to stop texting).
- You give someone a direct order to do something and the other person doesn’t think something is wrong with them or you.
- You’re able to speak openly back and forth and not take things personally
- If someone is raising their voice at you and you are not judging them, you can simply ask the question, “Why are you raising your voice at me?” without feeling any anger or animosity.
- If you’re the one raising your voice, you can ask yourself, “When did I drop the attitude?”
- You can address an employee’s resistance without sounding like you’re blaming them.
All of the above will help your team get on the same page. This is how you get more done in a shorter amount of time with less friction. In addition to the perspectives laid out in this blog, INC Magazine has some useful tips for making communication at work easy and digestible so it can become one of your leading go-to tools.
More Tips for creating an authentic workplace environment
If you think authentic communication might be something you want to incorporate into your workplace here are some ways to get started:
- Begin by having a team discussion about what authenticity means to each person on the team. Then explain the attitude and how it can be used as a basis for future interactions.
- Always check in with yourself before you speak and ask yourself some simple questions.
- Are you open to this other person or are you feeling angry or resentful in any way?
- Are you wanting the best for them as well as for the situation?
- Adjust your own feelings until you feel curious and interested in them without any animosity or anger. Then speak.
- If you’re having trouble getting to that place, perhaps you can explain this to the person to let them know that you want the best for the situation as you move yourself towards a more comfortable and open place.
- Last but not least, decide ahead of time what you want most from your meeting or discussion. Is your first want to get everyone to see things your way or is your first want to create a safe space to encourage open discussion and mutual respect as you move forward towards accomplishing your goals?
If you want help with any aspect of how to easily incorporate authentic communication into your workplace just pick up the phone and call or shoot me an email, whatever works best for you. Then let’s take 20 minutes in my free Communicate for Success Session to see what’s the next step for you.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
All the best,