9 Steps to Mindful Work Conversations
Poor communication impacts businesses in a number of key ways. According to HR Magazine,46 percent of employees say they regularly get unclear directions. This obviously has an impact on productivity, and will also increase employee turnover. In the IT world, 28 percent of professionals report poor communication is the main cause for the failure to deliver work on time.
Needless to say, poor communication will also have an impact on a company’s reputation, customer service, employee engagement and can increase the risk of making serious mistakes.
Leading mindful conversations requires some effort. Even individuals who aren’t the best communicators can improve the skill, if they’re willing to put a bit of work into the process.
1. Listen before Speaking
By taking just a few seconds to process the information you’re getting before replying, you’ll increase the effectiveness of your communication and improve the response.
When you listen and try to understand what the other person is saying, you’ll train yourself to have empathy. Your response will be more compassionate and targeted. Quite often, we dismiss what others say in an attempt to get our point across. Is it surprising, that this rash approach doesn’t work?
2. Remind Yourself of Corporate Values and Beliefs
Before starting a conversation with an employee, a client or a potential partner, take a few minutes to think about the company you represent, its values and beliefs. This should be your main focus. You’re a company representative and everything you do shapes the face of your business.
3. Leave Judgment at the Door
You can’t be judgmental and you can’t start the conversation with certain expectations. If you do, you’ll keep the lines of communication closed. Being non-judgmental is not the same as agreeing with everything another person says. Give them an opportunity to explain, understand their reasoning and, if you still disagree, communicate the difference in point of view without insulting the person you’re talking to.
4. Just Breathe
Deep and mindful breathing is the perfect way to calm down if you feel you’re about to lose your temper. You can practice breathing exercises throughout the day, and during difficult conversations. Instead of responding immediately, take a deep breath. It will bring your heartbeat down and enable you to focus. Deep breathing also improves the supply of oxygen to the brain, enhancing your cognitive function.
5. Planning is Good, Extensive Rehearsing Isn’t
Some work conversations you’re going to have will potentially impact the future of your business. Preparing in advance will give you confidence and the ability to steer the conversation in the right direction.
Though planning and searching for information prior to communicating with someone is a good idea, rehearsing extensively isn’t. There’s a risk of sounding scripted and disconnected. In addition, conversations will rarely unfold according to plan. Be quick on your feet and react to the input you receive at the moment.
6. Stick to the Facts
The best professionals and leaders are capable of having mindful conversations with others regardless of their emotional state and personal beliefs.
To have productive conversations, stick to the facts and present objective information. Leave your personal beliefs out of the communication and keep the tone neutral.
7. Don’t be Reactive
This tip relates to the previous one. When the conversation gets heated, it’s natural to respond reactively. This type of response will let your frustration out, but it doesn’t contribute to finding a solution or a mutually-beneficial outcome. Instead of being defensive, try to understand why the other person is saying the things they are. Pause, try to comprehend and state your argument without being harsh or intentionally trying to insult.
8. Constructive Criticism
Instead of putting someone down or delivering bad news without any feedback, provide constructive criticism. If you’re getting an employee off a certain team, you may want to explain the reasoning and suggest another assignment. Explaining your reasoning and being open to discuss the situation will make it a lot easier to have some of the most difficult situations.
9. Give Yourself a Time Out
Have you reached a stalemate? Do the differences in opinion seem to be irreconcilable? Call it a day and schedule a second meeting for the next day. People need some time to process difficult information and distance themselves from emotion. By having a time out, you can tackle a challenging situation in the most productive manner.
Mindful work conversations can be easy – all you have to do is slow down, listen and think before you speak. These suggestions sound like a cliché but their effectiveness has been proven. By controlling the impulses and emotions, you’ll boost productivity and build strong work relationships that will enable the growth of your business and healthy organizational culture.
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