How straight talking can bring teams together and open new opportunities

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Written by Achieve Breakthrough

How straight talking can bring teams together and open new opportunities

Most of us shy away from difficult-to-navigate conversations. We have other competing priorities and commitments, and often it just seems easier to let things lie. But reciprocal politeness is a bit like a pillow, it can let us all get a little too comfortable.

We need the courage and willingness to forget about keeping up appearances and instead start challenging each other to uncover what we actually stand for. When we learn where our real commitments overlap, authentic relationships can develop across our teams, with our suppliers and partners, and more.


Build upwards from your commitments

In engineering, you need substantial building foundations to be able to transmit the load of the building safely into the ground. The size of the finished building depends on the size of its initial foundations.

It’s the same with our organisational relationships. The greater the individual and shared commitments, the stronger the foundations, and the greater the chance of project success.

However, we often avoid being candid about the specifics of our commitments for fear of derailing the wider goal. It’s easier to voice commitments to a vague future that anyone can subscribe to, such as a better world or a more profitable business. 

But we need to face the uncomfortable gaps that can emerge apparent when we say our specific commitments out loud. Without that, we will all keep laying bricks, wondering why our project and our partnership isn’t getting off the ground.


Become like a curious scientist

Straight conversations are needed in almost every function of an organisation. They’re vital in establishing team goals or organisational strategy; and they’re crucial when choosing new suppliers or launching a change initiative. 

With change processes, speaking straight is really important from the outset because these initiatives almost always serve as an alteration to an existing strategy. Straight conversations allow us to co-create transformations with the teams and employees who already know what works, giving them room to build and play out new initiatives with their own insights.

There’s good news too: straight conversations don’t have to be emotionally-charged. If we approach conversations like a curious scientist, gathering the data and evidence needed to understand the constituent parts of a new structure, we can be the direct catalyst for new action.


New ways of conversing

So how could these conversations sound out? Let’s take hiring as an example. On a recruitment panel, interviewers might say: “As a team/organisation we’re committed to X.

Traditionally, the interviewee might have said they were committed to the same thing, just to be hired, but it would be better if they actually replied by saying: “I’m committed to Y more than X, but I would still be willing to stand for the organisation on X as well.” 

It might seem challenging, paradoxical even, to say this when trying to stand out as a candidate. But speaking directly at this early stage lays the foundations for future success. By authentically speaking our commitments early on, we invite others to meet us where we’re at and ignite an immediate spark.

Straight talking is also as much about listening as it is about speaking. In the act of declaring our own true commitments we invite and influence others to share theirs. Authenticity acts as a highly effective drawing solution for deeply embedded splinters, and it means we can be more creative and wholehearted in how we work with each other.


Prevent communication breakdowns

Human relationships are already in the process of breaking down unless we pursue the level of radical authenticity needed to support them. We tend to shy away from rifts to pretend they’re not happening, but with no support mechanisms in place we drift further and further apart. Voicing our true commitments, even when diametrically opposed, actually brings us closer together. 

We expect our planet’s engineers to build structures fit for the physical environments we live in and it’s time we, as leaders, do the same for the fabrics of our organisations. Let’s speak straight and come together to establish our shared foundations. The scale of what we can achieve depends on it.

Looking to make collaboration work? Get in touch to explore how we can help you ignite your ambitions.


Published 06/06/2024

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