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  • Writer's pictureMike Sedam

Communication: Positive or Negative. It's Your Choice.

It is important for us to consider where we are coming from when we communicate with other people.

For example, imagine a supervisor having a conversation with a worker. The worker has made a mistake that the supervisor needs to address. The supervisor starts the conversation by telling the worker that they noticed the mistake and wanted to discuss it with them.

Now think about where that conversation could go. Think about the words that will be said and the tone of the conversation. It can go two directions and the lens the supervisor wears to view the worker dictates what direction the conversation will go.

The first direction is from a supervisor that believes people are a problem that they are paid to deal with. These supervisors believe that it is their job to keep people in line and to admonish them for the mistakes they’ll make because they’re careless and just don’t try hard enough. These supervisors love the power that comes with the position and is a firm believer in the mantra “you better do as I say.”

The second direction is from a supervisor that believes people are the biggest resource the company has. They believe the greatest benefit a company gains from employees is flexibility and adaptability. These supervisors believe it is their responsibility to develop a culture where people feel like they can contribute to the overall success of the company. They believe people are not problems, but rather hold the solutions to issues the company has to deal with. This type of supervisor doesn’t crave power, but loves the feelings they get from having a trusting, open team. They firmly believe that everyone deserves an equal level of respect.

The same words can come from both supervisors, but those words will be taken in completely different ways. Both supervisors could also formally discipline the worker. However, the message, even with the same words and the same outcome can be taken completely different by the worker based merely on where the supervisor is coming from and the motivation behind their communication.

It matters what is driving the supervisor’s behavior. If they come from a place of power where they view the worker as a problem they need to deal with, this can have a negative impact on the organization. If they come from a place where they believe the worker is a valuable resource and member of their team, they can have a positive impact on the organization.

Conversations move in either a positive or negative direction. We get to choose which direction our conversations go. We get to choose which lens we wear when viewing other people.

Let’s communicate so people see themselves as part of the in-group. Let’s communicate in a way that helps people get esteem and a sense of belonging from being a part of our team.

We have the opportunity to build trust and cohesion during every conversation. If we are kind and respectful, we can move our organizations in a positive direction, build positive environments, and create positive work experiences.

For more, please listen to Crucial Chat: Communicating from the Right Place. It Matters. from The Crucial Talks Podcast

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