After publishing this: Nothing’s Final in the Managed with Aloha Workplace, I happened upon an essay on Medium with this coaching: Don’t Get Lost in Being Right. – 5 Steps to Reducing Rage and Having Better Conversations, by Rajen Sanghvi.
What Sanghvi brings to light beyond what I wrote in “nothing is final” is that process and progress can get messy. It’s not always easy: There are times people DO want to argue and will demand more of your attention, not being completely willing to take action yet: They want more from you first.
Not all arguments are bad, particularly those asking for your help.
Your challenge as a good manager, is to shift argument to a conversation which pursues a next-step-for-each-of-us agreement as its target, keeping that conversation more productive, and less polarizing.
Sanghvi offers these 5 Steps with more detail. They build on each other and loop back each time the other person speaks:
- Be aware of your ego before you open up your mind.
- Open your mind before you listen.
- Listen before you think.
- Think before you speak.
- Speak, remain aware and then start back at 1.
We’ve shared a similar Language of Intention.
Sound familiar? We’ve talked story here about them too. Rewriting them as he explained in his detail:
- Be aware of your personal motivations: e.g.
Humility tames the Indispensable Beast. Here’s how and
All Conversations Are Not Created Equal
- Be aware of your personal bias: e.g.
Collect stories. Dispel myths. and
Banish your Possibility Robbers
- Listen to the other person, not yourself: e.g.
How to Listen and
Tear Down Your Walls
- Comprehend, anticipate impact: e.g.
Listening Alone Does Not Humility Make and
Managing: Let’s talk about the Basics
- When you do speak, remain aware and keep your emotions in check: e.g.
Speak up, I’m listening and
The Acid Test of a Healthy Workplace Culture
Let’s focus on 3. Listen to the other person, not yourself.
What really grabbed my attention in his article, was his sharing of “possible internal monologues.”
To be honest, they made me laugh in my first reading – they were serious yet entertaining. As you read them, they may cause you to see the faces of teammates who might frustrate you at times (or you may feel twinges of guilt).
Mostly, his internal monologues were a glaring visual for me of just how silently verbose we can be in our own heads: No wonder the din screws up our listening and comprehension so much!
Silence those noises.
A lot of that din might be valuable mental gymnastics… most of the examples Sanghvi shares are good questions deserving your answer. It’s just that trying to answer them while in the throes of conversation with another person is nearly impossible, and worse, it’s perceived as rude. They feel you aren’t paying attention, and frankly, you’re not.
You can’t. Not until you cure the irritation.
My coaching for you is this: Don’t just turn negative monologues into positive, proactive monologues as Sanghvi suggests. Take it further than that, and empty your head: Eliminate the internal monologue altogether, for even a bunch of positives will be far too noisy and distracting.
This has the makings of another worthy episode of self-coaching through awareness in journaling: We all have internal monologues. After you read Don’t Get Lost in Being Right, see if you can tune into your own.
Start by simply transcribing your monologues when the conversation is over: Write them down, and then question why they cropped up. Perhaps you can cut them out by identifying their source – Did they stem from an underlying issue with the person you spoke with? Did they originate in a different distraction, one that had nothing to do with that person, but still interferes in your relationship and partnering? Can you isolate what triggered it?
Work on the answers you come up with. Eliminate each root cause rather than having them repeat themselves in another future conversation because turns out, you didn’t pay attention to yourself either.
Talking to yourself over and over again without getting anywhere is no fun at all.
1. Here is the “managing better” coaching tip connected to root cause: Managing Energies: Struggle & Ease. It speaks to helping someone you manage, however it’s also the way to help yourself.
“Human energy flows and surges when work is done with ease; there is a wonderful tendency where good begets more good. Conversely, our working energy stalls and sputters when there’s any kind of struggle in the process. Struggle is a sign of a person’s weakness, whereas ease is a sign of their strength. You may still have to do more diagnostics to wade through context, and discover root cause (such as when a process obstacle or relational barrier is the culprit), but you’ll be halfway there. You’ll know where to help them, and why — you’ll also have the work at hand to immediately work with them on gaining improvement, which is way better than having a theoretical airy-fairy discussion about it.”
2. Another way to get to root cause, is with the 5 Whys: Managing: Learn how to ask “Why?”