Would you like to learn a communication strategy to use the next time you initiate a family dinner or business meeting?
Have you ever attended a family gathering or business meeting and it seemed like the stars were lined up – where everyone spoke and had a chance to share his or her thoughts? If so, did you ever analyze why it was such a successful time for you and others? This article is about one of those perfect family dinners.
My story starts during an evening where everyone got along and the communication flowed as if was a well-directed play. A cousin of mine was in town visiting his mother. He and I enjoy lunch or coffee each time he visits her. This time he expressed an interest in getting to know my grown children and their kids. I invited my family to come to dinner. They all accepted the invitation because they knew that I’m a huge fan of this cousin.
Here’s the hard part of my story. I decided to sit back and not speak as much as I usually do because this night was about the family getting to know each other. It was not about me interjecting my own opinion about our family history. Remember I told you that keeping silent is a tough behavior of mine! The good news is I’m glad that I observed the magic happening right before my eyes.
The communication strategies below can help you the next time you initiate a family gathering or business meeting.
Communication Strategy #1: It helps if everyone is motivated to attend
Of course, this is tough for meetings at work but, it can be done when leaders create a positive environment for everyone. Food and a focused agenda help. You can invite colleagues and direct reports who you feel have the right attitude to attend the meeting.
I don’t know about you, some of our family gatherings aren’t picture perfect. The timing may not be right or family members were tired. Well, this time everyone was eager to be there. It worked because my cousin reached out and my kids were thrilled that he wanted to get to know them better.
Communication Strategy #2: Leaders need to sit back at times and let the conversation flow
Leaders usually start the conversation, ask questions, and follow his or her agenda. The magic happens when leaders don’t give their opinion but, observe and listen to others. People are open when they want to be there and when they feel valued. The quiet ones feel more comfortable and contribute when they see the leader relaxed and not micromanaging the meeting.
Of course, I wanted to interject a story here or there and I chose not to. Instead, I let the family make their own conversation. Again, this was not easy but so enjoyable to watch.
Communication Strategy #3: Ask questions about others that show you are interested in them
This communication strategy is so basic yet is one of my secrets to success. My grandkids always hear me express how important it is for them to ask questions to others. Making other people feel important is something I find missing from many communications. I know you know what I mean. It’s usually all about the speaker – a one-sided conversation.
Back to my story: Each person asked questions about the other person during the entire dinner. The result was that everyone felt appreciated. The laughter and positive atmosphere were apparent and I was smiling internally during the entire evening.
Now for some reality
The communication strategy is simple yet so hard to do when there’s a narcissist or bullies at the event. You know I had to bring these two characters up since they seem to follow me and my loyal readers around. 🙂 It’s still possible to use the communication strategy.
Just remember to concentrate on the people who you want to speak with during the event. You read this correctly. Ignore the bully or narcissist. They will either get the idea and move to another target or try to sabotage your communication. At least you tried to stop the bully from taking over.
You need to remain in control. Don’t let these negative behaviors stop you from enjoying others. Remember, “You get what you tolerate!” Tell yourself that you are in control and that you’re not going to let the “negativos” ruin your time. Believe me when I tell you this is very hard to do. It’s also possible because I’ve worked on this behavior many times in my own life. My clients thank me for supporting them to gain control with these toxic people.
I want to hear from you!
Send me your questions or comments on what is and what isn’t working with your family or business gatherings.
This is Joyce Weiss, Communications Strategist and Coach
I provide personalized coaching and Premier Programs for individuals and groups.
Learn how Joyce Weiss can leverage her 30+ years of leadership consulting and coaching experience to help your organization address and discover communication strategies HERE
Until next time, Remember…”You Get What You Tolerate!”