Interpersonal Communications

People Matter – On Defensiveness

By | Business Ethics, Culture, Interpersonal Communications, Leadership, Talent Development, Talent Retention | No Comments

D-Fence Blog ImageA lot of emphasis is placed on defensive activities in the sporting world from a positive standpoint. Commentators proclaim excitedly, “He played a great defensive game; the defense won that game for the team; what a great defensive play.” However, defensive stances don’t play that well in the workplace. In fact, defensive attitudes impede learning, contradict collaboration, create destructive conflict, stifle professional and personal growth, and in general negatively impact working relationships. We most often think the other person is getting defensive needlessly, but I would challenge you to evaluate your role in the scenarios. Do you find yourself asking, “wow, what got into her…all I did was ask a question.” If this is the case, take a look at your approach. What about your encounter did you contribute to creating a defensive stance in the other person? Rather than always seeking to blame others for situations, your first question should be to yourself – “what role did I play in creating a defensive posture?” “Was my tone accusatory?” “Did I make inaccurate assumptions about the other person?” Did I use antagonistic word choices?”
Now for the other side of the coin. Take a hard look at yourself. Do you have a tendency to get defensive when others are only attempting to offer observations or suggestions? If so, how do you change your stance? There are several things you can do. Maintain an open posture, i.e., be approachable. Closed body language portrays defensiveness before any words are even spoken. If you feel the heat rise in your neck and are poised to defend yourself from a perceived attack, practice stress management techniques that work for you…things such as deep breaths, self-talk, counting, etc. Ask questions to clarify what is meant; this gives you time to calm down, think, and provides an opportunity for more open communication.

Does Self-Awareness Improve Leadership?

By | Interpersonal Communications, Leadership | No Comments

Dog in MirrorHow self-aware are you?

If that catches you flat-footed, you may have some work to do. Self-awareness is key to developing stronger communication skills, fostering higher quality relationships, and increasing your effectiveness as a leader.

Self-awareness results from being honest about who you are, your likes and dislikes, what you do well, what you don’t do well. The process is introspective and requires complete transparency – understanding how you think about things, how you engage with others (verbally and non-verbally), and how others react to you.

Knowing yourself is critical – relationships are not unilateral. YouMUST know how your contribution affects the relationship. And if you want to be an effective leader, the responsibility is yours.

Where to start?  Try answering these questions:

  • During a conversation with a subordinate, how much time do you spend espousing your perspective vs. understanding the employee’s thoughts by engaging him/her with questions?
  • Do you actively listen to what the other person is saying?
  • Do you interrupt the other person because you can’t wait to get your point across?
  • Do you exhibit interest in an employee’s family?
  • Are you constantly looking at your phone or laptop while supposedly in conversation with someone?
  • What tone of voice do you use when communicating?
  • Are your comments condescending?
  • Are you open and receptive to feedback from others?
  • What kind of body language do you observe in the people with whom you interact:
    • Do they maintain eye contact or look off into space as you are talking?
    • Do you get blank stares while you are speaking?
    • Do they fidget?
    • Do others avoid engaging with you?

Developing your level of self-awareness is an ongoing process. Gaining a better understanding of your contribution to subordinate, manager, and peer relationships will show you where to make adjustments to increase your impact as a leader.

NobleVision can help.