Communication requires a safe place

Most workplaces I visit acknowledge the need for open communication. In some, this is even part of their written values. Yet, in those same places I often hear people say that lack of open communication is one of the main problems they face. What is going on?

In my experience, there is one issue that is often overlooked. If you want to promote and facilitate open communication, you have to build a safe place. What does a safe place for communication feels like?

A safe place is a place where. . .

  • People can be vulnerable. You can allow yourself to become vulnerable knowing that others will not exploit this vulnerability, but embrace it. People will help one another to overcome their weaknesses.
  • People can talk without being interrupted. You know others will not rudely interrupt, but let you finish your thoughts.
  • People listen with kindness. Even if you make mistakes while talking, people will be kind and find ways to help you clarify your message.
  • People show respect. They can disagree with your message without attacking you as a person. There is no name calling, screaming, of cursing. Strong emotions can be kept in check.

Remember. . .

Your leadership can help create a safe space where open communication is possible. You have to start by being willing to show your own vulnerability. By exemplifying and promoting the attributes that help create a safe space, you will help people feel free to share openly.

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