If you are like me, you strive every day for positive, value-added communication. We know that creating and maintaining relationships underpins our success. Sometimes though, we come across a Negative Nelly or a Sabotaging Sam. Their communication can be negative, accusatory or even bullying.
Consider Fred, one of my networking contacts.* I’ve known Fred for years. But lately, his attitude and mindset have become even more negative than usual. His communication comes across as sarcastic and passive-aggressive. And this time, he has come very close to embarrassing himself to a wider audience.
In a recent meeting full of lawyers and other stakeholders, Fred got so angry and frustrated that he said to the entire room: “What do you take me for, an idiot?”
Uh oh … long dramatic pause in the conversation …
Fred just scored an ‘own goal’. He achieved nothing but a negative impact to his reputation. And in all probability, he will not be able to achieve the career and life goals he set for himself if he continues with this self-destructive communication style.
Not every interaction we have with others will lead to the outcome we want. We know this, right? We work hard to achieve our desired results, but as educated, worldly professionals, we know that sometimes we don’t get the win in our column.
How can Fred or other people who might let their emotions overrule their judgement make a better impression and ensure their communication brings them success?
Here are 5 ways to accomplish that:
1. Leave the emotion out of it
Let’s face it. Some of us are emotional creatures. But negative emotions do not serve our greater purpose. So leave them at the door. Even better, learn to deal with them yourself, without overburdening your business communication with them.
2. Change your mindset
A negative, controlling, or woe-is-me attitude is not just your problem. You make it everyone’s problem. So do some soul-searching, understand how to manage your state, and turn on the positivity.
3. Make an effort to add value
Someone who is always trying to get the edge over everyone else is not trying to add value to the conversation or the world. Those who take, take, take are usually undone in the end. So use your new positive mindset to help others, share your expertise, and give something amazing to the world.
4. Practice empathy, tolerance and acceptance
Understand that others may have a different opinion than you do, and that’s just fine. When we accept not just the similarities but differences in our business partners and others, we can reconcile our interests and come to a win-win solution. So use constructive communication that moves everyone forward.
5. Think before you express yourself
Once in a while, we say something we shouldn’t. Maybe we are being too honest, or maybe we are making a judgement about someone else. That can get us into a situation where a major apology is required, but even that may not save the relationship. So be your own best friend and put on your internal filter before you damage your relationship and your reputation.
Bottom line? We should be able to handle challenging business situations with empathy, open-mindedness, tact and diplomacy. Relationships, business or otherwise, are critical to our success and our happiness. Use your excellent communication skills to nurture those relationships, not tear them, and yourself, down.
p.s. For further reading about this, I suggest: 10 Quick Tips to Build Strong Business Relationships and The Fastest Way to Destroy a Budding Business Partnership
* Named changed to protect privacy. Apologies to all the Freds out there for using their name here.