You Said What? Establishing Constructive Communication

Communication…it makes or breaks a relationship, doesn’t it?  Because of the power communication holds, it is a core value for Arise & Be.  Communicating well with an emphasis on fostering positive community and relational teamwork requires a commitment to ‘weed out’ confusion and constructively address what is causing anxiety.

This was a lesson I recently learned in leading a team of highly gifted individuals.  After a successful event, I began to pick up on a general sense of anxiety within the team.

After making observations and checking in with several members, I realized individuals were struggling in how to give and receive constructive feedback.  There was a general unease about how to say some hard things.  I soon came to understand that the anxiety was stemming from a fear of hurting feelings if they said what they were feeling.

What was needed?

We needed the space, time, and safety to communicate well.  So, at our next meeting, we decided to practice giving and receiving feedback based on basic communication principles:

1.    Affirm the relationship and your positive intent.

2.    Specifically describe what you observed.

3.    Share the impact of the behavior or action.

4.    Invite the listener to respond.

5.    Focus the discussion on moving forward and finding solutions together.

It was a meeting well spent.  We established a safe and healthy culture to communicate what needed to be said in a way that cared for the relationship as well as directly targeted the need for growth.  Because the time was taken to practice communicating well, relationships grew stronger, goals became clear and more achievable, and the group angst was replaced with a spirit of security and confidence.

When we have a sensitivity tuned into the emotional vibes coming from our relationships, we can recognize it as an opportunity to pause…address it…and step into the conversation.

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Hold the tension of both honoring the relationship as well as encouraging growth. Perhaps considering these questions for your own journey in communication will help:

· Where do I want to communicate better?

· How do I want to intentionally move into a conversation?

· What is stopping me?

Taking the time to communicate intentionally is the best gift you can offer a relationship. Step into this with courage and confidence. Try out these 5 basic communication principles…you can do it!

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