There is always a bit of a delay when on a Zoom or phone call, making it hard for us to be aware of when the speaker has paused and when we may begin to respond. We often begin to respond just as their next sound bite comes through, giving the appearance of interrupting them and thus beginning that awkward back and forth dance of “Sorry! You go.” “No, you go…etc” Self-awareness encourages us to increase the length of our “pause” prior to responding and allows us to hold space open for the other person to finish before we begin.
When emailing and/or txting, re-read your message prior to sending to confirm that the tone of your message will not be misinterpreted. Should you add language that helps to properly convey the tone? Should you add a greeting? Email and txt messaging have the edge when it comes to misinterpretation of a message. They can wreak terrible havoc so pay special attention when composing and sending a message. Which is most important? Sending a message that will achieve the desired result or sending a message that may do just the opposite?
IN-PERSON MEETINGS – WHEN THEY ACTUALLY HAPPEN…
Be focused. Make eye contact. Listen to understand and hear what they are saying. Pause before responding. Respond using invitational language : “May I suggest” “Would you consider” “Help Me to understand” “I would like to better understand” “May I share a thought with you” “Would you share with me how you came to this opinion” etc. When you use invitational language you are letting the other party know that you have made space for them to speak and you will listen. You are interested.
WHEN PEOPLE ARE FRUSTRATED AND UPSET:
One of the rare moments when you are certain to have 100% of someone’s attention is when they are upset…with you or with some result to which you are attached. They are upset and they want to know what you have to say. They are frustrated, maybe even angry and will hang on your every word as you respond. They want to know how you feel about how upset they are. How will you redirect the situation? How important are their emotions to you? How much do you care about them? Let them finish sharing their thoughts and feelings – wait for their pause. This is when you really need to ramp up your self-awareness quotient and, once the space is created for you to respond, be especially thoughtful about the words you choose and how you begin your counterpoint. “I understand how you are feeling…” “I heard all you had to say and I can see…” “May I offer a different perspective?” “Might we, together, see how we can revisit and move through this situation?“
Eventually your self-awareness will simply became second nature and, ultimately, your greatest asset and your secret weapon!