There are dozens of philosophies regarding how to communicate with people. Everyone has a great new idea on the best way to communicate across cultures, across genders, and across societal barriers. But they all boil down to one simple thing – one key ingredient to make conversations more effective, bridge gaps, create unity, and nurture healthy, trusting relationships.
That key ingredient is being genuinely respectful.
One of the most positive and constructive messages we can communicate to our coworkers, regardless of cultural or gender gaps, is that we trust them. We recognize their awareness and value their perspective, insight and competence.
How and when a person uses this key ingredient is particularly critical.
Many of our normal day to day conversations aren’t long and involved meetings, but brief check-in or feedback conversations. It’s important to communicate these many positive traits in each of these simple conversations. It may seem herculean, but the trick is simple: have the dialogue with genuine respect.
More specifically, you ask three simple questions BEFORE you share your thoughts:
Where are you getting stuck?
What might you do differently?
Any time you allow another person to self-assess first, you send that most positive message of confidence and respect. You say: “I trust you and your awareness. I value your perspective and your competence, and I welcome your insights.” After they have shared (and you demonstrate that you have, indeed, heard them) then you can answer those same questions for yourself, adding anything that’s still relevant.
As familiar and simple as these questions are, when used in this way and with a mindset of genuine respect, the results can be profound. With a little effort, you will be able to effectively bridge sensitive cultural and gender gaps while simultaneously building strong and healthy relationships with colleagues.
If we can be more intentional, and demonstrate genuine respect in these brief but important dialogues that occur multiple times a day we will create communication that knows no boundaries.