"The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces." (Proverbs 10:8)
What is causing you the most stress at work? A study of 2000 American workers indicated relationships were the top source of job tension (Harvard Business Review, Sept/Oct 2022). It was not the work they had to do or how difficult the work was: it was relationships.
As good communication is critical in establishing good relationships, it is essential to have a strategy to communicate effectively and wisely. Be the person who speaks wisely. Do not be someone who babbles foolishly and potentially contributes to poor connections.
1. Be the person who understands not everyone at work sees things the same way or has the same perspective. Earnestly listen with the intent to learn and understand and not just to push what you think is the right way. This can lead to collaborative effectiveness.
2. Be the person who knows when to stop talking. Remember, if you are talking longer than 40 seconds, you are likely talking too long. You need to give the other person the time and respect to articulate their views (essential if they are not the same as yours).
3. Be the person who is glad to receive instruction. It does not necessarily mean you will accept it as right for you but rather you are happy to receive it. "None of us is as smart as all of us." Indicate you are glad to receive instruction just as you hope others will receive yours.
4. Be the person who guards their mouth. Before saying something, filter it through three words: "Is it kind, true, and necessary." It may not be the right time to say something, you may not be the right person to say it, you may not have the facts or it may be unkind or unnecessary.
5. Be the person who helps others reach their own conclusions. Being a good listener, allowing others to share their thoughts and opinions, showing respect to people giving you advice, and guarding well what you are saying helps people come to their own conclusions ( as opposed to you telling them what the conclusions should be).
A Wise Speaker
Is quick to listen, slow to speak
Knows when to stop talking
Is glad to receive instruction
Guards their mouth
Helps people reach their own conclusions
A Foolish Babbler
Is quick to speak, slow to listen
Usually talks non-stop
Prefers to give instruction
Does not consider guarding their mouth
Informs others of their conclusions
This past week at work, I conducted a different performance review with a staff member. Instead of deciding on a compensation package to offer her, I decided to take this 5 step approach. I asked many questions to determine what aspects of the workplace were essential to her, what she was looking for in work-life balance, what she wanted to develop, and even what she felt was a fair salary for her experience. I listened and regularly stopped talking to give her ample time to respond. When I asked her what we could improve as a workplace, I was excited to hear what she had to say. I was careful with what I was to say and offer as I needed to have all the information before I did so.
We finished the meeting with both of us recognizing this was a very respectful, professional, and caring approach to working together: understanding the areas important to her and the clinic's success as we work together to continue a dynamic relationship. We are meeting again next week when I will provide her with two excellent packages for her to choose between.
Do you presently have a stressful or toxic relationship at work which is affecting your work and your enjoyment of it? Consider the five traits of a person who speaks wisely and incorporate them into your conversations this week. Even start by asking them their opinion about something, and watch to see what happens.
Taking This To God In Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your instruction on communicating wisely. Help me to be mindful this week of listening well, speaking wisely, and having an attitude of learning from others. In this way, I pray that I will honor You and bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.