There have been innumerable titles and catch phrases used to describe effective communication. However, regardless of the many ways to describe it, the goal of effective communication…to create a connection and understanding, has never changed. Effective communication is the barrier that stands between being heard and acknowledged and feeling “stuck” and powerless.
Allowing others to support their efforts while working through transitions is critical to my coaching clients’ success. However, they are often challenged by their inability to clearly state how and why that support is needed. As it turns out, VULNERABILITY is a key element in relationship dynamics. While it endears us to others, it’s often the very thing that stops us from asking for help in the first place.
We tend to not want to look vulnerable and yet we (particularly women) are immediately drawn to protect, support and champion others whom we view as vulnerable. In fact, if we look at our deepest and most meaningful relationships, vulnerability (at one point or another) always leads to deeper bonding. Absent the willingness to be vulnerable, relationships stay linear and superficial.
So when we prepare to engage in an empowering conversation, whether at work or at home, there are some steps to consider before taking the plunge.
1. Recognize your feelings around the topic or issue but leave your ego at the door. Get clear as to exactly what it is you’re feeling…”I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m feeling unappreciated, I’m feeling invisible, I’m feeling powerless”. Using the personal pronoun “I” in stating how you feel will help you to take responsibility for your feelings. If you are having difficulty separating your feelings from the other person’s behavior, you’re not ready to talk!
2. What is the intent or the object of the conversation you’re considering having? How can you move forward toward a solution to the issue or challenge and honor the person, the relationship and yourself? Stay away from needing to be RIGHT. Stay focused on the highest intent of the conversation.
3. Interestingly enough, the right time to have the conversation isn’t when you perceive the other person is ready to hear it. Rather, it’s when you are clear with steps 1 and 2.
4. Speak to the possibilities by giving voice to moving forward from a place of integrity, confidence and courage. Keep it positive and solution driven, not accusatory or judgmental.
I’ve experienced the amazing transformation that takes place when these steps are taken before initiating a difficult conversation. Shifting your mind-set from “power and dominance” to “empower and honor” can go a long way when soliciting the support you need in order to bring about change.