Today’s workplace has physically transformed. Not only have we shifted from fewer brick and mortar offices to 24/7 remote access; but the workforce itself has become incredibly diverse. conscious communication plays a vital part of a company’s cultural and economic success.
My first job (in the early ‘90s) was working as foreign exchange assistant for a Wall Street firm. The squawk box sat in the midst of my team’s workspace. The foreign exchange traders would bark out orders, instructions and, often, profanities and cutting remarks. A few of the women on my team would cry about the intensity and crassness of the outbursts. My point of view at the time was taken from the movie A League of Their Own: “There’s no crying in baseball,” and for me, this meant no crying at work. I sucked it up. (Quite honestly, the yelling and profanities reminded me of my father, but that’s a different story for another time).
My second job was as a treasury analyst. It was my job to interact daily with every department to gather and analyze the inflows and outflows of money so that the treasury leadership team could fund the company’s daily cash position. This was in the mid ’90s, without instant messaging and shareable docs, so I would bring printed spreadsheets into my boss’ office every afternoon to share my analysis. Usually, I would walk into a scene of my boss and his contemporaries smoking cigarettes and cigars and sometimes having a drink, always talking brashly about work and extracurricular activities. While there was some taming of language in my presence, it was still a bit awkward for me to interact with them in this scenario. And, at the same time, I didn’t want it to keep me from engaging with my boss and his colleagues. I melded with the flow as much as I could.
A few years later, I managed a team that handled critical payment issues for the senior executives of a Fortune 50 company, also another Wall Street firm. And, like the first two scenarios, there was often yelling, heated words and profanity stemming from intense stress as the success or failure of these payments created reputational and financial risk for the company. But the difference in this scenario was that my team was on the front lines of interaction and I was adamant about them being treated with respect and courtesy. Concurrently, I would speak to them about expecting and demanding that courtesy and, when necessary, I was willing to intervene to ensure it.
Fast forward to more than 25 years and the workplace now has multiple generations, races, ethnicities, spiritual preferences and genders, creating a diversity that has never existed before. In today’s transformational times, there is a daily confluence of communication obstacles. From minor misinterpretations to outright malicious comments, workplace conversations can be a minefield of missteps.
Without dismissing the offenses or diminishing the personal affronts that have occurred, what else could be possible if a broader scope of consciousness is applied? With the lens and tools of conscious leadership, there is a possibility to create a kind and inclusive culture, leading to improved communion, collaboration and productivity for individuals and companies.
3 TOOLS FOR MORE CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION
1. Use strategic awareness to employ the ‘kingdom of we’
You know those moments when you are about to say something, make a remark or a flippant response and you have that little tug that tells you it’s not okay to say? What if you were willing to listen to those tugs, sometimes whispers, that you are about to say something that will not land well in the other person’s world?
If you are willing to have the strategic awareness that it clearly isn’t okay or falls in the ‘gray zone’ of uncertainty, and then be willing to not say it, you are making a conscious choice. You are employing the kingdom of we: the space where we choose honoring and respect over ignorance and freedom of speech, just for the sake of freedom of speech.
How do you do you know what someone can hear and receive in any instance? By pausing and asking yourself, ‘If I say this, what will it create?” and following your awareness. This takes but a moment. And if you’re struggling with monitoring your speech, ask yourself if it is more important to you to be right (to have your freedom of speech), or could you have much more success when you are actively aware of your verbal impact?
2. Choose compassion and courageous kindness in the face
of capricious comments
Author and researcher Brene’ Brown shares a philosophy that most people are doing the best they can most of the time. Everyone comes to the table each day with a lifetime of experiences and situations that influence and affect who they are and how they interact in any given moment.
How much do you really know about your co-workers? In a time where it’s not necessarily acceptable to ask for details, and without being a human resources expert, I would like to offer this: if we functioned from the point of view that people have a good reason for their injurious actions (personal traumas, inadequate learning, lack of awareness, burnout and exhaustion) could there be room to choose compassion over confrontation in some circumstances?
That being said, when you know something is malicious or malignant to you or someone else, are you willing to speak up and say that it is not okay? This is courageous kindness. It is having your own back and in some cases, supporting someone else who may not have the courage in the moment to stand up for themselves.
3. Leverage diversity of thought to create greater outcomes
Clear Company survey statistics show that racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35%. “One of the biggest things stopping managers from implementing diversity is that they’re afraid of introducing people whom may not agree with each other will hamper productivity. In fact, the awkwardness that comes with not understanding those around you is what makes diverse teams work so well.”
Again, how much do you know about your co-workers and colleagues? How much do you know about their skills, talents and knowledge in any given situation? And, how do you leverage diversity to create something greater?
You ask. You ask and show interest in people’s backgrounds with sincere curiosity. And, you ask people, “What do you know about this?” and give them the space to contribute.The willingness to be open, inquisitive and inviting of others’ thoughts and awareness without judgment is the key to unlocking innovation, creativity and inclusiveness.
While you may have a particular style of communicating and addressing situations, interacting successfully in today’s diverse workplace demands a new approach. The choice to become more present, engaged and respectfully responsive to the diversity of people and thought around you is your response to leading more consciously in workplace communication.
Danna Lewis is a well-being and conscious leadership advocate and brand advisor. She has co-authored three multi-list Amazon best-sellers and hosts a weekly conscious leadership radio show, Luscious Leadership, available on Inspired Choices Network, iHeart, Spreaker, Spotify, iTunes and many other podcast platforms.
Danna has more than 25 years of business experience from high-growth startups to franchise development to Fortune 50 companies. She is a mindful leader with passion for building integrity-driven brands. Currently, she is the COO of the Athena Alliance, a non-profit providing executive development and corporate board match for senior executive women. Personal development is a priority for Danna and she has trained in many modalities including Access Consciousness and Joy of Business.