"Ships" sink with poor communication. Relationships, partnerships, leadership–all are subject to their demise if not ship-shape.
How attuned are you to your communication navigation? How we listen and respond to others plays a critical role in subverting mutiny.
For example, when you're listening to an idea or feedback from one of your team members, do you "listen" with mmmhmmm, mmmhmmm, yeah, mmmmhmmm... just waiting for them to shut up so you can give your feedback? If so, stop it, for obvious reasons. Instead, try this: ask at least two questions about the story or idea they're sharing. Not only does it remind you to actually hear them, it's a reflection on you that you care about what they have to say. And that feels good, for both parties. Positivity resonance.
How about this–when you say to your boss, "I just landed a new client!" and their response is "great, but you're still below quota," how does that make you feel? Blah, right?
How we respond, matters, and there are four ways of doing so. One, in particular, floats far above the others. Let's look at all four:
Passive Constructive Responding
Your team member shares "Check out my newest version of the logo!"
You, the Creative Director, immediately responds with "Yeah, that's cool. Good job." (with no nonverbal communication)
It's constructive, you're acknowledging their effort, but you've put nothing into it. No eye contact, no emotion. Nothing to connect to. A wasted opportunity to build that person up.
Passive Destructive Responding
Your Little Leaguer shares "I just hit my first home run tonight!"
You, the parent, immediately responds with "Do your homework." (no eye contact, complete disregard)
This is the worst of the bunch. You've taken a highly meaningful experience for your kid and destroyed it. No acknowledgement of their achievement, no positive reinforcement to bond with. Best followed up with an apology. And ice cream.
Active Destructive Responding
Your significant other shares "I'm down 10 lbs!"
You, the other other, immediately responds with "I bet most of it's water weight. I need to lose 20." (showing negative, nonverbal emotions)
You acknowledge their comment but do so with a negative and compound the response by turning the focus towards yourself. This one is super common, so pay attention to your response style.
Active Constructive Responding
Your friend shares "I received a raise today!"
You, the friend's friend, immediately responds with "Good for you! What did they say about it? Did you know this was happening? You should be super proud of yourself!"
That's the one. You've made eye contact, you've displayed positive emotions and you BOTH feel uplifted by the exchange.
When we respond any way other than Active Constructive, we've shipped the bed with our communication. Being cognizant of how we respond and utilizing the ACR-style is a massive display of positive leadership that creates space for psychological safety, be it for a friend, family, or someone that follows you as their leader.
If you'd like to practice for the real world, please respond to me (with ACR)!
*ACR is the work of Martin Seligman, Ph.D. and Karen Reivich, Ph.D.