Are You Building Bridges or Walls?

Business Edge-smart growth strategies-marciaToo often I see daily conversations that result in unnecessary mis-understandings, hurt feelings, and, at times, nasty conflict in organizations. What causes this? There may be many reasons but one that stands out.

That is, how we interact and communicate with others: whether it’s our employees, peers, customers or even our boss. Unwittingly we tend to build walls that stifle trust and sour relationships.

However, we can turn that around. Instead we can build bridges that will lead to better employee and customer engagement and as a bonus better leadership. Here are three simple communication tips to practice daily with others including your family and friends.

  1. Replace “Yes But….” with “Yes And…”

There are two distinct ways to communicate: The ‘and’ way and the ‘but’ way. In the “Yes, And” way, one focuses on the positive aspects of the ideas being presented, adding new insights on top of them. A “Yes, And…” response shows you may have a different point of view and would like to express it. This helps to prevent the conversation from becoming a battle over who’s right and who’s wrong.

A “Yes, But…” response identifies the limitations of ideas, focusing solely on negative aspects and indicates, whether you want to or not, that you disagree with the speaker, In a “Yes, But…” response, you are implying you’re wright and they are wrong!

  1. “Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood”

This is a well-known quote from Steven Covey’s The 7 Principles of Highly Effective People. Unfortunately it is often recited but not often practiced.

Think of a recent conversation you’ve had.

  • Were you listening fully to what was being said or where you thinking about how you were going to respond?
  • Did you check your understanding of what you heard before responding or did you just assume you knew exactly what the other person was saying?

When we listen with the intent to understand others, rather than with the intent to reply, we begin true communication and relationship building.

3. Lead with Open vs Closed Questions

A closed question usually receives a single word or very short, factual answer.

Example: Are you thirsty? The answer is Yes or No.
Example: Where do you live? The answer is generally the name of your town or your address.

Rather it tends to result in quick conversations with limited information.

They usually begin with what, why, how or describe or tell me.

Example: What happened at the meeting? Why did you react that way?
Example: Please describe the circumstances in more detail.

Open questions allow for exploration and encourages a sharing of various opinions and experiences which can lead to a better understanding of commonalities and shared goals.

[su_box title=”SMART MOVES TIP” style=”glass” box_color=”#0d8fe5″]These three changes in your daily conversation, if practiced, will make a big difference in building bridges and not walls. What other suggestions do you have that will prevent building walls in relationships? Tell us of your experiences.[/su_box]

My Motto Is:

If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens.” To bring that magic to your leadership and business, subscribe to Marcia’s monthly Execubrief: Business Edge- Smart Growth Strategies with insights, inspiration and intelligence on how to build great businesses that matter- those that do well and do good.

Did You Know That a New Kind of SMARTS is needed?

75% of leaders are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle people problems, unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust. – Center for Creative Leadership. Do you want to boost your emotional and social intelligence and be a more effective leader? Let me help you do it!


Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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