“I’ve been looking at the numbers and they say we essentially have too many staff for the business we have.”
This was my naïve and good intentioned remark when I was a bit younger to address a significant strategic issue. I was proud of myself for being a leader in raising the topic.
What I hadn’t expected was the seismic reaction from my colleagues.
I thought we would move next to the discussion on strategic interventions to rectify the situation such as increasing marketing, exploring new leads, and all-hands-on-deck to find new work. I expressed it as a rally cry. Or so I thought.
What they heard was, “Your job is at risk.”
Chaos ensued. People felt under siege. Conflict erupted.
What I learned that may help you avoid similar pooh bombs:
- Think about how people might receive the message.
It’s not what you say. Sometimes it’s how you say it. It’s always about how they hear it.
Effective communication is always a two-way street. Spare a thought for those receiving your statement and consider what it threatens in their world.
- Pause. Breathe.
This is an essential skill – in and out of the boardroom. We can rush to speak, to have our opinion thrust on to the discussion table. However, if it is laced with emotion, the message is likely tinged with an unpleasant taste. Everyone feels splattered, including you.
The pause allows you to clear emotion and come from a better place.
- Come from the place of love.
We may not like your colleagues. We may find them irritating, annoying, and even plain rude!
We can however, experience love for them. Not romantic love, but the kind of love that comes from a deep respect of all humanity. This can be a challenge! A good thing to remember is that all of us are doing our best. None of us knows what is happening in the background of someone’s life, so treat others with respect and care.
This will always serve us well.