In today’s busy, hyper-distracting, and stressful work environment empathy is the glue that holds it all together. Sometimes we offer unsolicited advice or mindlessly interrupt a conversation in an effort to be helpful. Ultimately, this mindless behavior distracts from making everyone feel respected and validated; which is a building block to achieving trust.
I’ve spent a lot of time embracing the power of silence to master active listening skills. It’s about hitting my internal pause button to be fully present and available in the moment. I strive to ask questions over giving advice. I believe this is a necessary step in understanding the other person’s priorities, preferences, and motivations. Empathy allows the other to see that communication runs deeper than words.
Bien Au Contraire – Quite The Contrary
Working within an ecosystem of integrity and trust enables teams to respectfully challenge each other’s thinking. Agreeing out of politeness does a big disservice to any team. Diverse points of view have inherent value so ideas can be viewed from different angles to uncover new opportunities. Everyone must feel empowered to ask tough questions, act on intuition and question what’s going on at any time.
Personally, I want my ideas tested, vetted and challenged so that every possible perspective is uncovered. Furthermore, I want my team to expect the same from me. As long as the argument is grounded in objective fact and delivered constructively, the contrarian can be the most important role in any organization.
Most projects require the brainpower and input of multiple people. Moreover, today’s teams are becoming increasingly diverse and dispersed, magnifying the need for more collaborative project management. In this new reality, communication and sound management practices become critical factors to keep the chaos at bay.
Effective collaboration is easier said than done. We all have an innate need to connect and cooperate with our colleagues, but there are many bumps along the road to arrive there. Nevertheless, the irony is that many of the tools that we use for greater collaboration with each other become the obstacles that stop us from doing our best work. Too many tools at our disposal makes collaboration overwhelming, disruptive, and chaotic. To combat analysis paralysis, I distill complex ideas into a simple common language. Effective communication still remains the best tool when all the other tools are not working efficiently.
Transparency? No Need. Just Say What You Need To Say.
Transparency? You know what I’m talking about! We all know someone who loves to illuminate their “transparency”. We also have the shared experience of when this transparency is challenged. Once the project goes sideways or drifts into uncertainty, obscurity, and ambiguity; transparency is quickly replaced by opacity.
Saying more than what you need to say makes you both vulnerable and open to criticism. It may also communicate the wrong message, so I choose authenticity over transparency. There’s a difference between authenticity and transparency, where being too transparent is not a good thing. It’s very important to project trustworthiness, authority, and a willingness to share. I am candid and forthright and strive to be genuine and direct.
Authenticity is saying things right. Authority is saying the right things. Whereas, transparency is saying everything. In my opinion, it’s wrong, because you don’t need to say everything to be transparent and you don’t need to be transparent to be authentic and authoritative.
There are a lot of painful ways you could spend your day at work than getting lost in a spreadsheet. I’m equally at home analyzing data in seclusion as I am interacting in a client-facing environment. I’m happy being alone with my headphones listening to music or a podcast in front of rows and columns of data. Slicing and dicing data with my itchy “right-click” finger on the mouse to discover new perspectives is enough motivation for me.
I hold data in high regard and wouldn’t make a final decision without it. Even automated data and reporting that is extracted from fancy software needs someone to tell the story. Nobody is interested in getting regurgitating data just for data’s sake. Knowing how to grill the data and find a story through it is the challenge that I’ve come to embrace. Common sense, intuition, proficiency, and clarity of thinking all help.