Do you remember what it feels like to walk in the dark? Do you recall how slowly you moved, how you tested every step before placing your full weight on the floor? Well that is exactly what it feels like to your team when you are not honest, open and transparent about your vision and your expectations as their leader.
Honest, open and transparent communications is NOT defensive. Defensiveness is reciprocal. When a person is threatened and begins to use these defense behaviors, others will tend to respond with defense behaviors of their own.
The following behaviors will bring on defensive reactions whenever the receiver perceives them as threatening—whether you intended them to be or not.
Evaluation: Evaluation is easy to spot. Thomas Gordon calls it “you” language because it is often prefaced with that word. Most of us dislike any situation where we will be evaluated—even positively—because there is always a chance that the outcome will be unfavorable.
Control: Communication that we sense is aimed at controlling our thoughts or behavior is always suspect. We are wary of anyone who “knows what is best for us.”
Strategy: When someone tries to manipulate you into doing something for them, whee they have a “strategy” to get their way regardless of its impact on you. It is trying to trick you instead of just asking you.
Indifference: This is acting with a neutral attitude. It is implying that the others person or their problem is not important.
Superiority: This is using money, power, intellect, physical appearance, athletic ability, etc. to express superiority over others.
Certainty: These are people who already have all of the facts and need no additional information. These are people more interested in winning the argument than in solving the problem.
Honest, open and transparent communications IS supportive and gracious. Supportive behavior is easy to spot. It is often called “I” language. Saying what you think, feel, expect, did, or will do. It is being responsible for your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Descriptive: This is putting the emphasis on describing the behavior or the problem. For example: “When you (their behavior), I felt (your feelings), and next time I (it) will (consequences).”
Problem Orientated: This is when you seek to find a solution together that works for both of you. Remember, not all problems have a single solution.
Spontaneous: Instead of always trying to develop a strategy to respond, try being spontaneous and honest. Be careful, even spontaneity can be a strategy.
Empathic: This is when someone shows that he or she cares for the feelings of another, there is little chance that a self-concept will be threatened.
Equality: People are not created equal, but people can treat each other as equals. Do you see others as having just as much worth as you?
Openness: Openness is defined as the ability to receiving new information and ideas. Once we judge we stop looking at data. Don’t be too quick to judge.