As a manager you oversee a myriad of things – client relations, deliverables, budgets, strategy, and more. It’s also up to you to keep an eye on the dynamics in your team.
Colleagues may be friendly to one another. Their behavior can run from sibling-like at best to bitter rivals at worst. The notion of teamwork can be deeply challenged by misbehavior in any member of the group. Gossip and infighting can emerge in the pressure of a project, and they quickly affect efficiency and effectiveness. In some instances, the friction can become so intense that an explosion is inevitable. That can send the whole team off balance, and, as the manager, you might spend more time smoothing feathers than doing any work.
When I was 32 I worked at a global PR agency and experienced one of the lowest moments of my career: I made a junior staffer cry.
I had grown increasingly frustrated with what I perceived as his lackadaisical attitude about our client’s demands, and I confronted him in the middle of the office – within earshot and eyesight of most of our colleagues.
I exploded. I berated him and chastised him. I demanded answers and actions.
He burst into tears.
To say I regret that day is a major understatement. Despite a general sense of camaraderie and teamwork in our office, not to mention my own years of yoga and spiritual practice, I acted out in a very inappropriate way.
I lost my inner wisdom and self-awareness. I acted out of fear, not Love. I jeopardized my role as a leader and compromised my team’s efficiency. I put at risk the relationship with our client as a looming deadline came second to attempting to re-establish the trust that my actions had shattered.
Even if respect is central to your work culture, everyone is susceptible to the tinderbox effect created by the pressures of our jobs, our lives, the world. The most balanced person can have a day so volcanic it sends everyone in the office running for cover.
Staying true to the path of Authentic Communication requires ongoing practices that keep us from straying into the dark and fiery realms of behaving badly.
It’s not about you.
If you’ve begun to do the work of self-awareness and are cultivating the kind of presence that would make Yoda proud, if you’ve embraced new possibilities that help to make your work and life a little less insa-a-a-a-ane, you may conclude that Authentic Communication is a program for personal development.
That, though, is only part of the story.
As we know, communication is radically relational. And being in relationship means other human beings, people with desires, cares, fears and feelings, are engaged with you. You are walking toward – or away from – each other on the bridge forged by your communication.
Before you find your team in turmoil, lean in and listen deeply to the people with whom you work. Social time together is valuable, but an evening at a local bar cannot compare with compassionate listening. Attentiveness borne from Love forges deeper, more meaningful connections, and those are the connections that really make your team hum.
Listen, not to solve any problems, offer a witty retort, or even agree with what’s said. Listen in order to see the world through the eyes of this person who is toiling by your side day after day, to create a safe place in a competitive, challenging, fast-moving environment, or to nurture more productive, creative, thriving collaboration.
There’s a good chance that you do hear what others say – like me, you might even take notes – but are you actually listening? The good news is that listening is a learnable skill that, with practice, can become a healthy habit. Listening this way, with intention, empathy and curiosity, lands at the heart of all Authentic Communication.
When you start to shift so that everything becomes an opportunity for communicating Love, it’s easier to drop “bad behavior” and choose connection, even vulnerability and courage. When you listen with empathy, you learn who your colleagues really are, how to communicate with them, how they listen, and how to support them through the work that you’re doing together so everyone experiences more meaning and fulfillment.
I have found that when people feel like someone has deeply listened to them, they deliver higher quality work and are more committed to their jobs. With deeper connections that come from listening, there’s also a chance you’ll feel the Love that’s been in your team all along.
#LovingWork #AuthenticCommunication #ItsNotAboutYou #Listening #CommunicationIsAnActOfLove #MakingWorkWorkBetter #21stCenturySkills
When I was growing up, there was a TV commercial for an electronics company that always ended with the actor proclaiming, “It’s insa-a-a-a-ane!”
Does that same line go through your head when you open your calendar?
You’re double-booked. Meetings overlap. Work and personal commitments conflict. It’s exhausting (not to mention crazy making) just to look at what’s on your agenda.
Like the “Exploding Inbox,” a nutty schedule can be a chance to check in with yourself. As you come face to face with all the demands on your time, clearly (or not so clearly) outlined on your calendar, you can take a breath and name the feelings that arise.
Then, when you’re more grounded in self-awareness, you’re prepared for the next series of steps on the journey of Authentic Communication. You open to new possibilities about how communication can take some of the sharp edge out of your agenda, your voice, and your work.
The Biggest Word I No
Restoring sanity to your calendar – and keeping it that way – is a never-ending process of discernment.
When requests for your time and energy come along – whether it’s an invitation to dinner or the chance to lead a huge client engagement – you have a responsibility to tune in and determine whether you can answer with a whole-hearted “Yes” – or if the appropriate response is, truthfully, a “No.”
Taking on assignments and accepting invitations can strengthen our sense of self, and honoring them can foster feelings of integrity. But what if you’re uncertain about making good on this obligation? What happens if you already feel strapped for time and resources? What if your calendar looks like pandemonium?
Just as with your inbox, you start by bringing self-awareness to what you feel when you look at your calendar. And you gain access to one of the most loving words you can say: “No.”
When you frame your answer as an act of Love, you release anxiety about creating disappointment and fear of missing out. With Love you can access your inner wisdom and discern the appropriate response. You can be open to the possibility of “No.”
You might think that saying, “No,” is anything but loving. In my experience, though, this small, simple word is among the most powerful in our entire lexicon.
I’ve found that, under pressure, it can be more difficult to say, “No.” And that’s especially true if you’re a woman raised in a culture that conditioned you to be a “pleaser.”
Saying “No” can be an act of self-respect and dignity. It helps us avoid over-promising, and the inevitable disappointments and stress that follow.
“No” is only available when you start from self-awareness because it means: “I know who I am. I’m clear on the commitments in my life – to myself and to others. I know what energy and resources are available for this. I am being honest with you and myself because I love both of us. I am not willing to risk disappointing you by taking on more than I can handle.”
I encourage people to meet life with a big, heart-opening, “Yes!” But it’s vital for “No” to be in our vocabulary, and to know when and how to say it. We have to be able to accept when someone says “No” to us, too.
“No” might be tough – for many of us it can seem out of reach. But embracing . this tiny, potent word as an authentic option and learning to express it with Love can support the autonomy and dignity of being human.
And, “No” might just keep us from going insa-a-a-a-ane!
#AuthenticCommunication #LovingWork #CommunicationIsAnActOfLove #ItsInsaaaaaane #BiggestWordINo
If you’ve read the previous posts in the Loving Work series, you might sense a fresh, new way to look at common business issues. Now we'll explore what’s possible when you embrace communication as an act of Love and turn it into a powerful skill for optimizing the way you work. Let's apply Authentic Communication to a few challenges most business leaders face. First up: The technology we all love to hate – email!
Every day, you open your email, and you cringe when you see the number of unread messages in your inbox. You promise yourself you’ll get it down to zero, or at least hold the number where it is now.
Your vow to achieve a “net-zero inbox” or be “email neutral” is noble. It’s also, though, improbable unless you bring a different perspective to what’s possible with this ubiquitous business tool.
You may need to use rules, folders and a bit of ruthlessness with the “delete” button to dig out from under your email mountain. Over time, though, that little red number creeps back up, and, once again, your day starts with email overwhelm. Your heart races with the feeling that too much has been left undone, or maybe some part of you freezes in denial.
The thing is that, in the busyness of work and the daily barrage of email, you may not even recognize these basic feelings. That’s the place to start.
Who knew that the business tool we all love to hate could be a source of personal insight that can help transform the way we communicate?
Email as Jedi Master
“So certain you were. Go back and closer you must look.” ~ Yoda
When you click on your mail program and catch sight of the flood of new messages, you might say something to yourself like, “Oh, geez. Here we go again.”
Or maybe opening your inbox feels like falling into a black hole. You lose yourself and your sense of time and space as you scroll through and try to figure out which ones will get your attention, knowing a pile will be left for you to deal with on the 1st of Never.
Or maybe you’re supercharged to tackle your email every day, and you maintain a net-zero inbox. Bravo! If you listen deeply, though, is there a hint of resentment that you just receive too many emails? Maybe you just feel a bit angry at that one person on your team whose emails land in your inbox all too frequently every day.
I love Yoda for his simple and uniquely phrased pearls of wisdom. The tiny green sage from Star Wars encourages us to search a bit deeper. Looking within is as necessary and ongoing an exercise for all of us as it is for the movie epic’s heroic Jedis.
In addition to all its practical applications, your email inbox can be a remarkably helpful tool for cultivating loving self-awareness. Greater emotional intelligence creates a foundation for communicating with authenticity and opens expansive possibilities for expressing yourself, your potential and your leadership.
Take a breath and listen within to the feelings that are triggered by the pile of messages in front of you.
Maybe you read that and think, “What does how I feel have to do with communication?”
The fact is that you are at your best as a communicator when you are grounded in self-awareness. If you are not aware of your frustration, elation, distraction – even your hunger or lack of sleep – you are more likely to mis-communicate.
You might confuse – rather than clarify – a situation. You might use a tone that sparks discord. You might even inadvertently mislead a person or a whole group of people.
As you become more familiar with your own inner landscape, you feel more stable and more connected with yourself. Making communication an act of Love comes naturally.
Connecting with Love may not change the number of messages in your inbox, but it can change how you feel as you move through those emails. You’re able to answer them thoughtfully and completely, rather than shooting off knee-jerk retorts that can even create more work – and more emails.
“Closer you must look,” Yoda advises.
Cultivate personal presence that provides the foundation for communicating with Love.
Grounded in self-awareness, you may find that it’s easier for you to have courageous conversations that can create change in your office culture – maybe you can even ask that eager team member to reduce the number of messages he sends and stem some of the overall email traffic.
Of course email is a basic business tool, but what I’ve found is that it also provides an opportunity to learn more about yourself. When you apply that self-awareness to cultivate Love for yourself, for your colleagues and for your customers, the dynamics of work shift. You learn to respond rather than react, and you start to make communication an act of Love. “Closer you must look.”
#AuthenticCommunication #LovingWork #CommunicationIsAnActOfLove #EmailAsJediMaster