How to make authentic conversation at work
People put up walls to hide their feelings, especially in the workplace. And it’s only perfectly valid—it’s usually used as a defense mechanism. However, most times, this leads to dissatisfaction and miscommunication.
According to changeminds.org, authentic conversation occurs when participants are being honest about what they think and how they feel. We need these conversations to have clearer directions. Employees, in turn, can also be more productive and engaged.
We asked our resource person on communication, Vina Vidal Vicente, for her thoughts on how to create authentic conversations in the workplace.
1. It’s not about you.
It’s completely human to always think about events as they relate to the self. Sometimes, however, everything personal. If one intends to hold an authentic conversation, one must be able to distance himself or herself from an event, so that he or she can look at it objectively.
Take, for example, when your boss tells you about the “awful” job you’re doing. Most people would take that as a personal assault. If you remove yourself from the equation, however, you will find that your boss may have said those words because of a number of factors—he was not feeling well, he himself got a scolding from his own boss, he had a fight with his wife, etc—that may not have had anything to do with you.
2. When making observations, use verbs instead of adjectives.
When one says “run,” everyone will imagine the act of running. Adjectives, on the other hand, can be subjective. For example: I would recommend pointing out what exactly went wrong (Say, “The computation was off by a decimal point.”) rather than pass judgment on the person (“Are you blind?”).
3. Talk about how an action impacts another person or the organization.
While observations help paint a common picture for two people having an authentic conversation, talking about impact helps describe feelings and repercussions and also drives openness. It provides a sense of vulnerability, therefore driving trust and openness.
The workplace is an environment that requires human interaction to produce results. Being able to hold and handle authentic conversations with one another—leader to team member, peer to peer, expert to decision maker—is a critical skill that will enable the organization to thrive.
Vicente, together with Christine Bata, will be facilitating a course titled “Authentic Conversations: Getting Comfortable with Important and Meaningful Conversations” on March 31. It will help supervisors, managers, department heads turn conversations into action and results. If you want the program to be conducted exclusive to your organization, it can be customized according to your needs. INQ
The Inquirer Academy is located at 4168 Don Chino Roces Ave. corner Ponte St., Makati City. For more information about the workshops or if you would like to add your inputs, please e-mail [email protected] or call (02) 8834-1557, (02) 8771-2715 or (0945) 2158935 and look for Jerald Miguel or Karl Paz, or visit www.inquireracademy.com.
The author is the executive director of the Inquirer Academy.
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