The language of interaction

Idioms add colour

How to improve your language of interaction?

When asking for input from colleagues, don’t ask yes/no questions if you want to get useful advice. “Are the parking arrangements working okay?” is less helpful than “Can you think of any ways we can improve the parking arrangements?”

Don’t reject someone else’s idea outright. Tell them what you like about their suggestion, then go on to voice any concerns you may have.

If someone criticizes you, thank them for it. “Thanks, I wasn’t aware of that, so it’s good of you to mention it.”

Don’t dismiss new suggestions with put downs like: “It doesn’t work, we tried it before,” or “That’s not your department.”

That kind of language and attitude kills innovation.

Change your approach to colleagues by listening more closely to what they’re saying. Mostly, we listen to other people thinking more about how we’re going to respond than about the points they’re making.

You’ll gain their thrust and appreciation if you say, “That’s an interesting idea you have there. Let’s talk it through and see if we can make it work in practice.”

If someone makes a complaint, don’t dismiss it by saying that they’re the only one with that problem. Firstly, that’s an unhelpful way to handle a genuine concern. Worse, it may be that nobody else has complained because they don’t have confidence that you’ll take any action.

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