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Filling the Void

One of the reasons verbal abuse – be it negative and demeaning criticism, gossip, bullying or other types of verbal assaults – is common in the workplace is that many folks lack the basic conversation skills that enable them to speak to others openly, honestly, self-responsibly and respectfully about what really matters.

Comfortable in your own skin
In contrast, those who are comfortable in their own skin, who are able to listen and understand consciously, who possess effective communication skills, who are able to speak up and speak out respectfully and who can discuss difficult topics with a sense of ease and grace, are healthier than those who are unwilling or unable to do so.

In the workplace, those individuals who say they have healthy relationships with bosses, direct reports, co-workers, stakeholders and those who serve them experience less stress and fewer physical, emotional and mental ailments.

The reason those with good dialogue skills have fewer ailments is because they are able to work through issues and conflicts in a healthy way – a way that doesn’t see them resorting to attacking, belittling, demeaning, dismissing, labeling, insulting, ridiculing, or verbally abusing others.

That’s why every organization, team, department, silo, unit or group needs to explore how it encourages and supports the power of dialogue and how individuals interact with one another.

How about you?
For example, are employees allowed, even encouraged, to speak their minds? Are they encouraged to share information widely (as appropriate)? Are all stakeholders asked for their input on important decisions? Do leaders, managers, supervisors and team leaders ask their direct reports, “what do you think?” early and often? Are all permitted, even encouraged, to express their emotions?

In essence, does your organization, department or team empower its members to contribute and engage in healthy conversation and dialogue? Does your organization train for, and consciously value and support, open and honest dialogue?

Filling the void
Where there is no opportunity to speak up, speak out, ask questions, contribute, and engage, there is a void. Where individuals lack the skills to dialogue effectively, there is a void. And, employees, like nature, abhor a vacuum. If a conversational void exists, if your organization or team inhibits open and honest communication, your employees will most assuredly find a way to fill it.

Unfortunately, the method many employees use to fill the void are more often than not self-destructive and self-sabotaging: rumors, gossip, complaining, nit-picking, blaming, bitching, moaning, finger-pointing, and out-and-out lying.

So, there it is. Your organization’s positive energy, health and vitality are entirely dependent on effective communication and dialogue. When your employees engage, with their hearts and minds, openly and honestly, shared meaning is the result. Healthy communication begets healthy relationships and healthy relationships beget a healthy organization.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you trust others’ opinions?
  • Do you hear as well as listen?
  • Do you feel comfortable expressing your emotions?
  • Do you ask others, “What do you think?” on a regular basis?
  • Do you make it safe for others to speak?
  • Do you create roadblocks to effective communication? If so, why?
  • How do you feel when you think you’re not being heard?
  • Do your colleagues say you are a good listener? Have you ever asked them?
  • Does your labeling or judgment of others kill dialogue?
  • Do you allow ideas to stand on their own merit regardless of who is offering the ideas?
  • Do you scrutinize the messenger as well as the message? If so, why?
  • Is your conversation style punctuated more by periods or by question marks? Why?
  • Do you allow time for dialogue in your workday?
  • Do you communicate to others that “you matter?”

(c) 2015, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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