The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place – George Bernard Shaw
Communication is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.
Conversation is an informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk. At this time we might include email and texting.
HOW IS YOUR COMMUNICATION?
Since we spend most of our time at work, then it is essential that we develop the skills of good communication. Crucial conversations are the ones we back away from because the impact on our emotions and life can stay with us and make life worse. Of course, the alternative is that they can make life better. (Crucial Conversations Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., Switzler, A.)
We witnessed widespread corruption within organizations that have both shocked and depressed us.
Enron – In 2001 Most of the top executives were tried for fraud because earnings had been overstated by several million dollars.
Wells Fargo – In 2016, 5,300 employees were fired because of 2 million phony accounts.
We have to remember that it starts at the top and trickles down. How many of us have worked within companies where the CEO is a bully and working there has contributed to our getting both physically and mentally ill?
When acquiring new employment, it is essential to know the culture of the organization which includes the values. Many of us get our identity from work, but we have to remember to take care of number one within any organization.
A study referred to attraction-selection-attrition (ASA) cycle, (Schneider, 1996.) The ASA cycle proposes that people with similar personalities and values are drawn to (attracted to) certain organizations and hired into these organizations, and people who do not fit into the pattern of shared values eventually leave the organization. There is the tendency for organizations to staff themselves and socialize their members in ways that promote a monolithic culture prompted Morgan (1997) to refer to organizations as “psychic prisons.” (Muchinsky, P.M., Psychology Applied to Work)
In order to survive and prosper it is essential that we have our basic needs met. This is the foundation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We have to be able to put food on the table and a roof over our heads if we are to flourish. If we are to survive and move up within an organization we must be able to communicate our needs, ideas, values and be a team player. We are interdependent and need to function together to ensure our livelihood.
Within the organization, we must let our manager or director know the good work we are doing while volunteering for projects. If you are in a situation where you are not heard then that is where critical communication is essential. Self-awareness is key to communicating in any conversation. How do we react?
When in a meeting do we barge in and interrupt to get our point across our do we sit quietly even though we have something to contribute? Are we passive aggressive in that we say nothing but bad mouth our colleagues after the meeting?
What happens when your boss criticizes your work? How do you respond? Do you get defensive or do you listen and remain quiet?
Emotional Intelligence refers to the biological tendencies that occur when we are emotional. The mistake we make is the belief that we have to act on these feelings. Just because we feel guilty or angry does not make that emotion a fact. Feelings are not facts. Let’s look at emotional reactions as habits that can be changed.
The Dali Lama states that:
Happiness can be achieved through the systematic training of our hearts and minds, through reshaping our attitudes and outlook.
The practice of meditation, yoga, exercise and reframing our negative thoughts to positive ones are habits we should embrace in order to live a less reactive life. It sounds so simple but it is hard work to change negative reaction into positive action.
Remember that being reactive affects our health. The American Institue of Stress reported that 75% to 90% of all visits to health care practitioners were due to stress related disorders. (The Heart Speaks, M. Guarneri, MD, FACC) I believe that this infers that many biological disorders are exacerbated by stress such as diabetes and heart disease.
What happens when your boss criticizes your work? How do you respond? Do you get defensive or do you listen and remain quiet? If you think the criticism is unfair then you have to look at this as entering into the danger zone.
When going into a meeting we have to be aware simultaneously of content and conditions. (Crucial conversations Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., Switzler, A.)
Is this a hot topic and are emotions high?
1). Be aware that this is a precarious situation and you don’t want to get engaged in an emotional exchange or games.
2.) a) Awareness of your body’s response is pertinent. Is there tightness in your stomach or chest, is your heart racing, or do you have shortness of breath? Are you numb? b) Have you become argumentative or defensive?
The Fight or flight response is a physical reaction to fear.
When entering into a decisive dialogue it is important to maintain a mutual purpose and mutual respect. Empathizing with your colleague can gain you a lot of ground,
Women are known for watering down a criticism or sugar coating it and the intent of the dialogue can get diminished or misunderstood.
If you feel a meeting is becoming a crucial conversation because reactions are escalating then you can take action to turn things around. Pull yourself out of the discussion by either using your breathing exercise or if necessary leaving the room for a few minutes so that you can get a better perspective. (Crucial Conversations Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., Switzler, A.)
If you feel you are under attack remember that person feels unsafe. How do you make the conversation safe? You step out of it and think about what the mutual purpose is? Find a shared goal.
What do I want? What do the others want? What does the organization want?
Try to understand another person’s point of view then you can open the conversation with that information and draw the person in. Self-evaluation comes from looking at yourself and asking “is this ego-centered and what do I want out of this conversation?” You may have to apologize and let go of being right. You have to understand what the person is saying and why so that you can respond in a way that is direct, truthful and respectful. Clarity is important before escalation occurs.
I would like to end with this last statement.
The Dali Lama states that:
If there is a lot of exploitation and injustice in the workplace
the appropriate response is to actively resist it and try to
change the environment. One can speak with management
about changing these things. If that does not work then we
must rebel. In the end, we must look for other work.