Creating a “safe” space for communication paves the way to open dialogue and idea sharing so that you can get the most of our team.
Practicing respectful communication is the first step to enhanced team communication, which will ultimately translate into client relations and success of your firm.
Here are six ways to practice respectful communication:
Seek a quiet, distraction-free area, where you can truly focus on what the other person is saying without being disturbed by excess stimuli.
Listen without anticipating your reply or how what they’re saying affects you.
Practice strong eye contact and non-verbal cues to show you are paying attention, such as nodding and positioning your body towards the speaker.
If your mind wanders, gently bring it back by focusing on the speaker and their message, rather than just the words coming out of their mouth.
Some messages are best communicated in person rather than digitally.
Choosing to avoid in-person communication can skew how the recipient perceives your message, as they can’t interpret tone or body language.
In other cases, sending an email or making a quick call is totally sufficient and respectful of the other person’s time, especially if it’s something of minimal importance.
Have you ever experienced a conversation where the other person is talking almost without pause and without consideration to what you have to say?
You probably didn’t feel very valued or as if your input was respected. Disproportionate speaking between two individuals is extremely common, especially when one individual believes what they have to contribute is more important.
Share the space, but making sure everyone is contributing proportionally. If you have a hard time dialing it back, encourage the other person to speak or share their ideas first.
Conversely, if you’re having a hard time getting the other to speak, remind them it’s important for everyone to contribute.
In a team meeting, it may even be lucrative to set a time limit to how long an individual can speak to make the best use of the group’s time, while still hearing from everyone.
Leaders often make the mistake of taking a “my way or the highway” mentality, where they believe their ideas are superior to everyone else’s.
This mindset is not only belittling to team members but also highly restrictive to creativity and finding the best solution to a problem.
If you’ve done a good job of encouraging your team to share their ideas, you’re bound to run across some that you don’t necessary agree with.
While you don’t have to agree with every idea, it’s important to value them as equal to your own.
Consider while opinions may be different, the intent is the same. For example, everyone on your team may agree communication with a client needs to improve, yet how to make those improvements may be different.
Acknowledging that everyone’s opinion matters creates an opportunity for respectful dialogue.
Treat others how you want them to treat you — that’s a given. As a leader, it’s even more important to lead by example because others are always watching.
The way you carry yourself and interact with others will inevitably be the “baseline” for how employees conduct themselves.
If an employee see you putting down someone’s ideas, stifling collaboration or not paying attention when another speaks, this behavior will be deemed acceptable and thus replicated by your team.
Simply put: offer praise more than you offer criticism. Avoid nit-picking or hovering over every little task your team takes on; doing so will decrease their confidence and autonomy to take action when it’s most important.
Offer constructive feedback, as well. Things won’t always be peachy perfect, but you need to address even the “negative” side without being overly critical.
If you notice an area for improvement, point it out AND offer a solution for the team member to take immediate action.