Business Negotiation June 10, 2014

Encourage Others to Express Themselves with These Behaviors, Habits and Approaches

Parties involved in a dispute or difference of opinion stand to gain when each encourages and help the other to express himself or herself more effectively.   The following suggestions can encourage such expression...

Parties involved in a dispute or difference of opinion stand to gain when each encourages and help the other to express himself or herself more effectively.  The following suggestions can encourage such expression.

  1. The stronger the relationship between parties prior to a meeting, the more forthright their exchange of viewpoints and concerns will be.  One of the great joys of work is sharing ideas with someone you get along with.  It’s a habit that builds upon itself even when your ideas differ.

  2. Trust and mutual respect are the catalysts that allow people in a group to share ideas and express their views and concerns.  These attitudes are especially important when the project is complex and diverse opinions essential for making sound decisions. Without mutual trust and respect people will not risk speaking out.

  3. Members of a team who have deep accents or are otherwise hard to understand are reluctant to speak in group settings for two good reasons; not only do they find it hard to formulate their thoughts in a new and less familiar language, they are also fearful they will be turned off by the very listeners they wish to please. The best approach when dealing with those so challenged is to accord them an extra measure of patience. As for those who have heavy accents, they owe it to the group and to themselves to improve as quickly as possible rather than retreat in silence, anger or despair.

  4. Expressing oneself clearly and succinctly is hard enough.  Speaking to someone who thinks he knows what you are going to say and says it for you before you do makes matters worse.  I worked for a boss like that and disliked every meeting we had to be together.  He did it with me and with others in the department.  Whenever we made a presentation or said something in the course of a meeting he would not let us finish.  He would pick up on something we were saying and carry on in his own words.  It quickly became his presentation, not ours.  If what he said was not what we had in mind, it became difficult to openly contradict him.

  5. Interruptions of meetings by people who are trying to be funny also impede the flow of ideas. I, like most of you, am all for humor in business.  What I find disturbing are those who cannot resist the impulse to make humorous remarks that are out of context.  If your joke or remark is good but out of context then tell it later or elsewhere so that it won’t impede the flow of the meeting.

  6. Nothing cuts the flow of ideas like criticism.  Criticism is never welcome and generally does more harm than good.  Frequent praise and infrequent criticism are keys to better communication and stronger relationships.

  7. Fully involved listening acknowledges that the other has reasons for taking the positions they choose.  These reasons deserve understanding even when you do not agree.  This is a major concession we can all afford to make.

  8. In order to speak out fully without fear of criticism one must feel accepted by the team or group.  Without acceptance and the sense of group cohesion that goes with it, the best ideas are likely to be left unspoken.  Acceptance has been called the “fertile soil that brings ideas to light.”

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