After more than 20 years working, leading and managing, it's clear to me that the number one thing that gets in the way of people being awesome is ... being a douche.
Do I really need to explain what "being a douche" means?
We all know people who are not cool to work with or hang out with. These people often say the wrong thing, lack self-awareness, let their ego walk in the door before they do.
They yell feedback across a room, they let conversations become outbreaks not outcomes, they bark orders, they don't listen or they don't speak up when they should.
They are female or male. They are anyone who does or says things that get in the way of building trust and respect.
We've all met douches, and if you are being honest and courageous you'll admit that you've also been one from time to time. I have been a douche at times. I wish I could turn back the clock.
What I do know is that with the right self-awareness tools and regular practice, I get better every week, every month, every year. Just ask my friends and family (well, maybe not my ex). Mostly I'm improving.
So how do we avoid falling into this trap of not being the best version of ourselves? Here are the things that can go wrong:
They have 'yoursations' not conversations
One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is not your advice but your undivided attention. To listen .... really listen. The goal is to expand the conversation not to narrow it.
A good conversation is like a tennis rally - back and forth. For communicators taking up more of the airtime in a conversation, it is time to learn that these are known as 'yoursations'.
Yoursationalists could practically have these discussions without the other person present.
They don't search for the 'real truth'
Coming to a conversation or business decision thinking you have all the facts is as pointless as going to relationship counselling on your own.
When you're the only one contributing, or are solely prepared to listen to your side of the facts, you are more likely to reach flawed outcomes as a result.
They need to be right
When your desire to win the conversation, or your need to be right dominates the agenda then you are likely to steer the conversation in the way you need, with no real regard for the damage along the way.
If you are not prepared to be honest with yourself then how can you expect others to be honest with you?
Being right becomes a lonely existence in which very few people trust you and even fewer want to work with you.
They don't place enough value on making others feel 'safe'
Maintaining safety in a conversation is the difference between an outcome and an outbreak.
When both parties feel 'safe enough' to be honest with each other is when you reach the best outcomes and preserve, or in some cases restore, great working relationships.
They don't highlight the real issue
Most people don't feel confident enough to go straight to the heart of the problem. As a compromise, they sugar coat it or walk around it in the hope that the other person will do the heavy lifting and see the truth hidden underneath.
This could be because we have not developed the courage or the right interpersonal skills to discuss the real issue. Or sometimes we interpret the issue incorrectly.
They let the 'Board of Directors' in their head do the thinking
We all have a view of the world based on our upbringing, culture, faith, community, age, etc. This then forms how we perceive information, people and circumstances.
These lenses or Board of Directors (BODs) skew how we see things. The BOD's tells us that our interpretation of life, people and situations is the right one.
But what if they are wrong? They often are. They take away our objective thinking and often steer us away from ideal outcomes.
They take others at face value
Because of our Board of Directors (see above) we often decide whether someone is right or wrong based on our own perceptions.
We look at someone's words and behaviours and judge them. We only see what they say, what they do and how they look. But this is not who they are.
This is often only a small percentage of what's going on for them. We don't make the time to consider this.
They lead with opinions and feelings, not just the facts
Often we find it difficult to decipher the difference between the facts and our own opinions and feelings.
So we lead with our feelings and opinions in a conversation and wonder why things go wrong.
Therefore, it's easy to understand that when do we open conversations with our 'facts' it's logical that the other person is not going to effectively take the new information on board.
They use 'honesty' as an excuse to verbally assassinate
Those four words; "I'm just being honest". They seem to give some people permission to say precisely what they think. Whether it is the truth or not.
Practise this type of honesty and not only will you see the trust and respect bank being depleted, but also the 'discretionary effort' bank too - regardless of whether we are friends or work colleagues.
It will seem as if we don't want to go the extra distance for these people anymore.
They don't know how to self-manage in the moment
Are you a lover or a fighter? Do you run and hide or always have to have the last word?
Either way, knowing how you react puts you a step ahead when it comes to self-management in a loaded conversation.
Most people don't recognise their reactions until it's too late and the damage is done. How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.
While the above 10 points are the most common blocks from creating outstanding communication they are not mountains to climb.
The good news is that people can learn the skills and self-awareness to create outstanding relationships and become the people that others want to follow.