As a youngster, before visiting people, Matthews Steer's General Manager Catherine Duncan was often told to “speak when I’m spoken to” and, when she was being told off, she was admonished: “don’t answer back”. Not the best advice for a feisty young girl who was never that good at holding her tongue!
Many of our behaviours and beliefs about how we should converse stem from well-meaning parents, or from bad experiences that stifle our confidence in speaking up. That can translate to the belief that ‘if I speak up or if I talk back, then I am being rude or being disrespectful’.
Then we go into the big wide world and take on roles and responsibilities that demand we have a voice, demand we have an opinion, and expect us to navigate those difficult conversations with ease. In fact, as true leaders, influencers and parents we owe it to those around us to share our experiences and learnings, to grow both ourselves and those around us (and hopefully to mentor others to become even better versions of us).
So, it is critical to have a voice and know what you are trying to say, and to say it in a way that is palatable for others to digest. We often speak to others in a way that causes them pain or misunderstanding. How your message is received, depends entirely on how you convey the message.
Fluffing around a difficult topic leaves the person confused about the message.
Blaming others while preening your own feathers will invariably put up walls and barriers to any progress. Remember if you are pointing the finger at someone else, three fingers are pointing back at you!
Gossiping never provides a solution and will eventually break any trust or confidence others have in you.
Constant complaining about someone else’s performance suggests to those listening that you are doing exactly the same behind their backs, and that you won’t have their back when they need you.
Creating a selected gang that you deliberately exclude others from, simply makes those people create their own clique.
Not speaking up leaves others believing you have little courage or resilience to step up to a challenge, potentially resulting in you being excluded or even by-passed.
None of the above behaviours will create a space of curiosity, collaboration, inclusiveness or innovation. In the fast-paced ever-changing world of the Fourth Industrial Revolution we desperately need to work together to ride the waves of challenge and opportunity that come hurtling at us daily. Everyone becomes great when we inspire each other every single day.
What are your intentions when speaking to others?
What outcome are you trying to achieve?
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”
Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)