How to address monsters in meta?

In this post, let’s take a look at how you could address “monsters in the room” and use “meta-communication” that addresses the how and why.

First, it’s crucial to check your attitude: Am I treating the other as a person?
Next, you could ask yourself: What do I want for myself, the other, and the relationship? Are you entrenched within the armor of your Ego or are you willing to look at yourself, too? Are you open to proceed?
Only if that’s truly the case, you can address the Why or How of the current conversation.

Address the Why and How

Here’s a short example:

“I notice that you seem a bit hesitant to respond to my emails about the project. Maybe you wonder why I share this with you?”
“Well, yes, because I’m so crazy busy I can’t help you out. It’s not my project.”
“That’s not why I told you about this project. I was curious to hear your view: aren’t we doing too many different things at the same time?”

Or, the other might say:
“I wonder, why do you tell me about this project?”
“I am curious to hear your view; aren’t we doing too many different things at the same time?”
“I don’t know much about the topic of your project, John. It seems you worry about this, don’t you?”
“I do. I am drowning in work.”
“I am too busy myself to jump in. But I could spend 10 minutes to explore possible solutions. Would that help?”

If you learn how to make it safe for others, you can talk to almost anyone about almost anything.

Being open, calm, and accepting is the most important step. So, first check if you’re not defensive, emotional, judgmental or pushing for a certain result. If you are, take a time-out and explore what you’d need. You’d be surprised how often we’re not open, calm, and accepting. It’s a step that we easily skip (especially if you’re busy) but it makes all the difference.

Being open, calm and accepting automatically directs your tone of voice and nonverbal communication to signal: “I am not against you. I respect you. We’re in this together, let’s see how we can make it work.”

Respect the other

Addressing awkward feelings makes the space safe. Addressing intentions does the same. If you can find a mutual purpose and show that you respect the other you can get the conversation flowing again.

Sometimes it’s necessary to apologize, or to check their emotions (“Was I too direct about this? Are you angry?”) or to ask more sincere questions and look at yourself.

Whatever your response, do not ignore the silence or violence. Ignoring makes it unsafe and turns the conversation into a role-play instead of an authentic encounter. Always respond to the process of “how” to restore safety.

Check your attitude. Are you treating the other as a person? Click To Tweet

Do you need courage to respond? Yes, sometimes. Your heart may be pounding when you speak up. But you do yourself and others a big favor to put issues on the table. My experience is that if you sense something, it is in the room and somebody else is feeling it as well. Because you need everyone fully engaged for peak performance, it’s crucial to put it on the table.

What is necessary to address in your situation? How could you practice this conversation? When will you address the issue?

This is book post #58 – Part “YOU”

Here‘s the earlier post
Here‘s the next post

If you’re confused – please start with post #1 or check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

By the way, if you want to contribute to a positive workplace culture, my next open workshop on Positive Culture Change Leadership is scheduled for May 2018! More information and registration is available at a first come first serve basis.

Leaders, employees, consultants, citizens – everyone can make a positive difference from any position, without needing permission or resources from others. This blog will help you see positive possibilities and (re)claim your positive agency. Unstuck yourself and engage others via your interaction and actions. Transform into a positive organization where people and performance thrive.

I’m blogging my next book: “Positive Power at Work – How to make a positive difference from any position.” Your feedback is appreciated!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Diane Weinsheimer

    excellent advice and guidance, as there always seems to be a monster in the room–or several–during organizational change.

    1. Marcella Bremer

      Yes, that’s also why we need courage during an organizational change…