Authentic Communication in Business
Whether you’re a lean start-up, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, or you’re in a position of management, there will be times you need to say difficult things to the people you work with. By approaching these conversations in a compassionate way, you’re paving the way for authentic communication in all areas and at all levels of your business.
Without an intentional approach to authentic communication in business, you are putting your business in jeopardy. The anxiety, self-doubt, uncertainty, and insecurity that comes along with difficult conversations can lead to added stress, sleepless nights, loss of productivity, loss of motivation and many other hidden problems. The consequences of authentic communication impacts all areas of your business and life.
Communication is Key to Business Success
Like any relationship, communication is the key to long-term success. This is the same for marriages, friendships, team sports and any business venture.
If you have a foundation of good communication, and have the confidence to be open and honest when you have disagreements, then you are able to be open, clear and forthcoming about how you feel.
If you start from the beginning with the intention of open communication in your business and you nurture that, then when someone wants to leave, has a different opinion or has a new idea, they feel confident and comfortable approaching you. Without this, you’re always left wondering how the people surrounding you really feel. And that’s never good.
Have a Communication Plan
So what’s the first step to authentic communication in business? Like having a prenuptial agreement in your marriage, have a clear plan that lays out what happens if there are disagreements, if someone wants to leave your organization, or if someone has suggestions for changes. When you have your communication plan in writing, it demonstrates to your team how important communication is, as well as gives everyone guidelines on how to settle disagreements from the get go.
The First Step to Authentic Communication
The first step to authentic communication in business is to remember the other person’s perspective. When you’re explaining a change of direction, new procedures or new goals, remember that a lot of times your team has their identity or ego tied up into the issue at hand.
That can make them sound unreasonable as they may have overvalued their role, responsibility or what they have contributed. Any changes you are making can make them feel threatened or like their contributions have not been appreciated.
The Value of Open and Honest Communication
Have an open and honest communication throughout every aspect of your business. Authentic communication means being honest in a gentle way when you have something “negative” to say.
As Maya Angelou famously said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
It’s not always easy to have open lines of communication, especially when there are emotions at play or when dealing with strong-willed people.
So what do you do? What do you say?
One way to calm the mood and diffuse the situation is to simply say, “Ok. This isn’t working”. And then start over with the intention of understanding and hearing the other person.
Remember that no one can do it alone.
We always have a team of people that support us, both professionally and privately, that are big factors in our successes. Having humility and keeping yourself grounded is vitally important to authentic communication. That sets the ‘tone’ of the entire conversation, whether you are aware of it or not. When you forget that your support network is a big piece of your success, you can come off as condescending or cold, and that makes people take things personally that they wouldn’t normally. Remember, just because you don’t think it’s personal, it doesn’t mean it’s not personal to the other person.
While implementing an Authentic Communication policy in your business may seem like a lot of “work” up front, embrace the challenge and know that this is an opportunity to push yourself and to learn more.
In the end, the entire organization will benefit from open, clear, and supportive communication in all aspects of your business.