Conversational capacity refers to the ability – of an individual or a team – to have open, balanced, learning-focused dialogue about tough issues and in challenging circumstances. It’s a vital competence, but this capacity is hard to maintain. All too often we behave in habitual ways that diminish it, with unfortunate consequences for our success and productivity – both individually and as a team.
Here is a list of the top 10 behaviors that lower your team communication skills:
- Scaring people away from the table by acting aggressively from a position of authority
- Shutting down open dialogue by acting aggressively from any position in a group
- Limiting the possibility for people to disagree with you by wielding your expertise like a weapon
- Avoiding important issues by trying to be nice at the expense of being effective
- Limiting dialogue and learning by dismissing or discounting views with which you don’t agree
- Covering up important ideas, views, data, and concerns
- Sacrificing candor by feigning agreement
- Downplaying or sugar-coating an important issue
- Killing discussion or stoking an argument by putting forward your idea as if it’s an absolute fact
- Treating people who see the world differently as non-team players, malcontents, or nuisances.
Do you see any of these behaviors in your business meetings? Are there any behaviors you’ve seen that you would add to the list? Building strong team communication skills isn’t easy; it requires self-awareness, self-criticism, courage and humility – a difficult balance to strike. By doing your best to avoid these behaviors, and by encouraging your team members to do likewise, you set a strong example and make it clear that you recognize the value of good conversational capacity for your team.