A friend of mine says, when it comes to conflicts, “We all want to be heard but no one wants to listen.”
So how do you get to be heard?
Part of the answer is this: Acknowledgement.
You may have just rolled your eyes. I know I likely did when I first heard this. I mean think about it: You are working with a colleague who keeps messing up and impacts your project by delaying it or making it less effective. You have to back-track in your efforts and sometimes you have to go over this person’s head to someone more senior in order to stop them from making it impossible for you to deliver on your objectives! Even worse, you may end up having to do their work so you can get your work done.
So how does my answer help you?
Acknowledgement helps creates the space to listen.
When someone feels like they have really been heard and their efforts are recognized, they are more likely to drop their defences and hear you more clearly.
The result? No side-bar conversation in their head about being right! They feel you get them and now they are all ears!
I’ve heard the following objections to what I propose: It’s hard to do. I don’t have the time to do this.
Yes, it’s hard and yes this will take time you feel you don’t have.
Take a moment here and pause.
How much time do you not have that you are spending trying to address this problem with no result?
How many years have you honed in the skills which you are applying to this problem with no change in the situation?
Chances are you have spent more time than you care to recall and spent years trying to address problems like these with no satisfactory result. You end up talking at the person instead of having a dialogue. The problem ultimately persists.
Acknowledgement is not agreement.
A lot of us have this feeling that if you acknowledge someone’s point of view it means you agree with them. Who wants that when really what you want is to be heard? Here’s the thing: When you acknowledge someone, you are making a verbal observation of what they have said or the actions they have taken. Acknowledgment opens the door to a conversation on resolution.
Now you may be thinking: Yeah JO, so all I need to do is open the door? And my answer to that is: Well yeah.
The hurdle to overcome is how to acknowledge someone without sounding like you agree with them. More on this in my future posts.
What I’m suggesting to you is to unlearn what no longer serves you and learn what can serve you.
N.B. 1. I’ve got a free toolkit that expands on the ideas and tips above. Sign-up HERE for tips and tools to improve your communication skills, gain more clarity, feel empowered and be resilient.
N.B. 2. If you would like to build your relationship management skills to improve project implementation; learn how to address power dynamics, conflict and difficult conversations; avoid burn-out and improve your resilience skills click HERE for more info & to sign-up for a free needs assessment.