The one reason your company should have more conversations not less as told by Mr Bean📢
Most companies and employees favour quick meetings when people can promptly agree and get on with their work lives. This often leads to people thinking alike, which can end with mediocre ideas and an inability to go through conflict or hold different points of view.
Sometimes other matters are hidden under the surface: being scared to speak up, intolerant colleagues, people not caring about their work and meeting outcome etc.
Rowan Atkinson on free speech
"We need to build our immunity to taking offence so that we can deal with the issues that perfectly justified criticism can raise. Our priority should be to deal with the message, not the messenger. (…) The strongest weapon for hateful speech is not repression. It is more speech."
Although Rowan Atkinson’s address concerns public freedom of speech, and companies are a different environment, it still teaches us a lot about one important thing.
👉🏼 Embracing 'uncomfortable voices of dissent'. 👈🏼
There is a vague line between people holding a different view and those being labelled as detractors in a company. The main distinctions may be:
fact checking and potential outcomes
talking vs. taking action
It’s easy to label somebody and hard to treat seriously afterwards. It might as well be a coping mechanism.
Embracing dissent is a skill to navigate different viewpoints without taking it personally and focusing on the problem, not the messenger.
HOW TO START?
👥 Try 'Ritual Dissent' exercise dedicated to enhancing proposals
“Ritual Dissent is a workshop method designed to test and enhance proposals, stories, ideas or anything else by subjecting them to ritualised dissent (challenge) or assent (positive alternatives). In all cases it is a forced listening technique, not a dialogue or discourse.”
👉🏼 Try “Ritual Dissent” exercise.
🤔 Approach difference in opinions with curiosity instead of judgement
what is the basis from which this person is speaking?
what is spoken in between the lines and how to surface it?
ask clarifying questions
👉🏼 Read "From Contempt to Curiosity" by Caitlin Walker.
⏲️ More speech =/= more meetings
👉🏼 Read my previous article on how to stop sabotaging your meetings and focus on their quality rather than time constraints.
🎭 Listen to what makes you uncomfortable in a given situation
All uncomfortable conversations teach us a lot about ourselves in the first instance: about our values, what we cherish, what we expect from others, where do we draw the line, what do we really think about a topic.
Ask yourself the following questions after a hard discussion:
what and were did the topic(s) resonate the most?
what does this reaction tell me about myself?
which part do I need to heal or what boundary did I violate?
what do I want to do about it and how to approach similar situation differently in the future?
🏼 Learn how to set boundaries in a conversation
Setting boundaries is important to learn in order not to play the role of a victim in a conversation. We don't have influence over what people do yet we always can decide on how we respond.
what elements do you need in a conversation to feel secure with yourself?
which one can you give yourself? which do you need to get from others?
voice the latter in the meeting when things get rough
🎈Share this post if you think it can help others to hold more valuable conversations that involve constructive disagreements.