Consistently, one of the lowest-ranked questions in the Better Teams Assessment is “Team members give timely and tactful feedback to each other, and do NOT talk behind each other’s backs”. As humans, being candid with others about what we need, think, and/or feel can be very challenging. When trust is low, it can be especially difficult to muster up the courage to start a tough conversation.
The reason it’s hard is because we’re wired to protect ourselves. Going into a potentially volatile conversation is risky. Any number of “bad” things might happen, including:
I was recently in a situation where I was afraid to share my true thoughts because I didn’t want to rock the boat. Instead, I held in my anger and hurt inside for a long time. It didn’t serve me or the relationship. Once we finally had the conversation, it was a relief and I believe we both learned and emerged in a healthier place.
Because this is challenging for most people, it can be helpful to prime a team for candid conversations. Here is an activity designed to prepare team members for challenging conversations by establishing an understanding of each other and building trust.
This exercise can work in small teams assuming there is ample time to share meaningful responses, and it is facilitated in a way that everyone feels safe to express themselves. You can also use this in one-to-one conversations.
It takes time and effort to build trust and have difficult conversations. This exercise is an example of one step it takes to move towards a healthy environment and relationships.
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams, Team Consultant Academy, and FORWARD, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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