Talk… to… Each… Other…
By Lauren Interrante – Creative Resource & Project Manager
We’re all overcommunicating these days as we navigate our remote work environments, but we can still find ourselves shying away from having the difficult conversations. Why?
Are we worried the other person may not agree with our views? Are we afraid of being wrong or upsetting someone, not getting our thoughts across clearly? I work with some of the kindest and most creative problem-solvers around. So, what are we so afraid of?
Let’s challenge each other to lean into that confrontation, to push forward and allow ourselves to learn from each other’s perspectives. How can we resolve performance or workflow issues if we aren’t talking about them with our team members?
Encouraging and facilitating well-rounded communication is my number one priority at Chemistry. Recently, I pushed for us to have a post-mortem… the meeting everyone loathes. Actually, let’s call it a wrap up, that term “post-mortem” is the worst! Must’ve been a real Debbie Downer who that coined that one.
In all honesty, it was intimidating to plan and to advocate for that meeting. We had just completed a 4-month project that evolved into a 7-monther, and of course everyone has a different viewpoint as to how we ended up where we did.
There was quite a bit of prep work involved to make sure the stage was set to have a productive meeting, especially one that didn’t fall into a negative, venting space. Research was done around how to keep the mood positive and solution oriented. An agenda was set to avoid falling into ranting rabbit holes. I assumed the neutral role as moderator, and it required a few preliminary 1 on 1 conversations to reiterate the meeting’s purpose and goal.
With full sincerity, I can say I was proud of our team. It seems odd or even silly to be so excited about this kind of a meeting, but I was and still am! We dug in even when it felt uncomfortable to say something, and we came out of it together with actionable takeaways that we can implement immediately.
It’s important to create opportunity for this type of open dialogue on a regular basis. Let’s talk about a few ways you can facilitate the tough conversations.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Sure, it may be nerve-wracking at first to address a work conflict head on, but by doing so straightaway you can save yourself a lot of internal stress and misunderstanding instead of letting frustrations linger or turn into a big blow up. Practice, practice, practice. It will get easier!
- Take a breath. It’s all about your approach. You’ve prompted the conversation, so you can also set the tone to be one that’s positive. Be direct, ask your question and be prepared to acknowledge different points of view.
- Leave your assumptions at the door. If you listen to the other person’s perspective before chiming in with defensive answers or interruptions, you may learn a thing or two. Our assumptions can misguide us when really, they haven’t even thought about how their actions affected you. Maybe they have another priority and their lack of response was just that. The point is, you don’t know.
- You don’t have to have the answer. It’s ok to feel like you have more questions than solutions. Questions lead to clarity. Don’t let that Zoom call end if you don’t understand something. Talk to each other. Collaborate and play out different scenarios. Throw out your wild hair idea. This is how we blow shit up!
These tough conversations matter. If you’re looking to make a bigger impact, stop avoiding them. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone with a different opinion than you. Have an open-mind and keep it real with each other! If all else fails, find your PM. It’s their job to help find solutions. ☺️