Open & Honest Communication – Top Ten ‘Must Knows’
Being open and honest is pretty much up there as a must have in any relationship or team – that is serious about itself and its goals. How you do it is another matter.
Open and honest relationships are a work in progress. Think of it as a journey not a destination (corny but true). Do we ever get to completely 100% transparency? I doubt it – but it’s a real worthwhile endeavour and certain to take you out of the comfort zone.
I thought it about time to draft an ‘Open & Honest for Dummies piece’!
- Inaction has a consequence – the ‘great unsaid’ matters. The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with drivel, misrepresentation, disinformation and destructive stories.
- We must confront issues in order to avoid confrontation. That means it’s inevitable that we enter into the discomfort zone; only then can you get to the breakthrough zone and to a robust solution.
- Being open, being straight is not be confused with being nice or being troublesome; it is neither. Being straight is being neutral and separating the person from the issue or their behaviour.
- The oft-quoted ‘good reason’ for not communication and withholding the truth is; “So the relationship does not get damaged.” The irony is that the withheld conversation has already damaged the relationship.
- Honesty is a bit like pregnancy – you either are or you are not. However, successful transparency isn’t simply letting it all hang out; you must acquire a fine sense of how much and what information others can handle, and how to deliver that information in an honourable and respectful way.
- It’s natural to fear ‘real & open’ conversations and what that might realise. What should really scare us are the unreal/hidden conversations. Unreal is expensive for the individual and the organisation – an opportunity on hold in fact.
- We don’t mean to lie but we’re all just so accustomed to embellishing or withholding the WHOLE truth that it becomes habitual. This habit is reinforced socially (as in “Yes dear, you look great in that outfit”), or politically correct (“Yes, Mister Client that’s OK, that’s not a problem to us”.
- The conversation is not about the relationship; the conversation is the relationship. Projects succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly… one conversation at a time. Every withheld conversation counts.
- The rule of thumb. If you have the same thought about a person or a situation three times you need to have that conversation – its got your name on it. (Whether that be praise you should be giving or confronting the great unsaid)
- Begin every letter or email “Further to our conversation…” That way there are no surprises and we are compelled to talk things through.
If ever there was a book that was required reading for those interested in this subject its:
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott