4i Newsletter Masthead 450

The risk of insult

Four i 450 RiskOfInsult

I once read that “the price of clarity is the risk of insult.”

I think that’s one of the main reasons why many people avoid dealing with issues.

The problem is then compounded as the issue repeats or grows.

Which begs the question, is the risk of insult worth it, to nip an issue in the bud?

There’s no easy solution, but there are things you can do to overcome the reticence to be clear and give honest feedback, (which will lead to relationships having a far greater chance of being both mutually beneficial and long term).

First and foremost, you need to build trust. There are many ways to do this but three I feel particularly strongly about:

  1. Be loyal to the absent – never say anything about someone else if they’re not present and challenge those who do
  2. On every available occasion, highlight your own mistakes – and then ask, “Is there anything else you’ve noticed?”How do you think I can do better?” By going first with your own failings, others are far more likely to volunteer their own and to be more open to discussing them.
  3. Set up “relationship” and “teamship” rules, ask significant others and teams how they wish to behave and communicate

Next, you need to pick the right moment for feedback – which is rarely in the moment. Nearly always, it’s better to create a gap between the issue and the discussion about it.

What’s also really important is to separate the behaviour from the person. I learned this from an acupuncturist I used to see regularly – she was having issues with her teenage daughter and would say to her: “I love you but I don’t like your behaviour…”

One of the main reasons relationships break down is poor communication. By avoiding issues they compound – and in the end the insults often start to fly anyway.

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