When speaking at a Safety Conference recently I summed up Courageous Dialogue in this way…”Courageous Dialogue is the conversations that matter most and are mostly avoided. To communicate courageously we must realize it is not rocket science, but there is a bit of an art form to it. We must get back to basics, do five things well and consistently to communicate courageously.”
The Basics Are:
1. Speak with respect
· Respectful and courteous communication
· Wherever possible face to face or by phone (texting and emails only lead to bigger problems)
· The skill of integrity and honesty
2. Speak with clarity, confidence and credibility
· Say what you mean (and mean what you say)
· Remember that words are like tossing a pebble in the river (you never how they will land and how big a ripple they will make), choose your words carefully.
· When you speak confidently and with credibility, people listen better
- Jot some point form notes down (of what you would like to say)
- Practice your side of the conversation
- Avoid assumptions
- Get the information you need (e.g. facts)
- Work on leaving the past in the past
4. Turn reactions to a response
- Manage your emotions
- If it feels like a trigger button has been pushed…breath, think before speaking and count to three in your head, this will help your response be less of an emotional “push back”
- Instead of judgment try being curious (I wonder why the person just said this) and ask a question
5. Have a mindset of communication success
- Use affirmative language
- Be hopeful and willing to discuss (and resolve)
- Use powerful I AM statements (I am skilled, I am confident, I am looking forward to an opportunity to share our perspectives, I am willing to resolve, I am able to listen actively, I am clear in my communication).
Unfortunately, many people spend more time thinking about what to have for dinner, where to go on the weekend and what to wear to work, than they do preparing for the conversations that matter most. Lack of preparation is at the root of many conversations that have fallen off the tracks or where people are emotionally hurt. Let’s be clear…worrying, obsessing and gossip are not preparation. I hope these five basics help you prepare for your next courageous dialogue.