Conversations right now seem to be on a roller coaster. They’re rawer. More emotional. They’re happening in different ways. And it feels like we’re at a pivotal time where more and more of us are sharing our personal stories. With passion. With humility. And with a deep desire to want to be heard and for things to change.
That’s a good thing.
What it means is that we need to be ready to listen. Really listen. Not just to the words. But to the deep sentiments, emotions and feelings that lie beneath. Normally we do that with people that are close to us, family and friends. And yet more of us are wanting to do that at work. To be able to show up as ourselves. As Sara Hope; the mother. The daughter. The one who’s wrestling with grief. The one who, like so many others, is grappling with the risks and challenges of running a business during a pandemic.
The impact of this? Each day, I go to work, and I feel incredibly privileged. I love what I do. I am challenged and supported by great people. And I can be myself. Don’t we all want that?
As leaders, I think we have a responsibility to think about how we communicate and create the environment where people can bring their whole selves to work. It doesn’t just happen. It takes awareness, skill. And it takes a willingness to talk about the hard stuff, emotions. Emotions keep us safe. They have evolved to help us survive and thrive. And they provide a huge part of the framework we use to communicate effectively. During a crisis, emotions are heightened, and no one will be in the same emotional place.
When people are overwhelmed, they respond to empathy. To a genuine conversation that builds connection and creates the conditions where it feels safe for people who want to share their thoughts, concerns and fears. We can only do this if we grow our spirit of curiosity, our capacity to truly listen, and our willingness to understand emotions.
I heard someone recently say that the leaders who will thrive in the future will not be those that have deep technical expertise or just engage with the head. It will be those that are able to engage with the heart. Those that, even when they are uncomfortable, keep having conversations allowing each person’s unique voice to be heard. Isn’t it time that we started to pay more attention to strengthening our capacity to be alongside each other. To be conscious of how people may experience us in our conversations. To notice our assumptions. And to practice being conversationally wise.
If you would like to have a chat about anything, please get in touch.