How do Diversity thinkers communicate?
Communication is key to all relationships, but effective communication is a must with our market and our clients.
The problem is the first thing many people ask themselves is, “How do I convey my message?” They then ask themselves, “What problem am I solving?” Fine, but what about asking the other person, the client what they understand their problem to be?
Diversity thinkers become Diversity communicators and ask different questions. Diversity communicators focus on the other person. They understand the need for really listening to the person they are communicating with. They understand this is far more important than what they have to say.
So how do you become an effective diversity communicator?
Before you engage in dialogue, it’s important to recognise there are some key attitudes or stances necessary for diversity communication. Intention is key as it’s your intention that will dictate the tone of your conversation.
4 keys to embracing diversity communication
1) Open communication….
… refers to the need to recognise we humans are relational and we thrive on healthy interaction with each other.
Diversity communicators recognise the importance of honest, open communication which is achieved by taking the lead and being honest and open yourself. This doesn’t mean we share every bit of personal information with our clients, but it requires us to be honest and not hide our intentions. In a work context, it means sharing what we are providing and what we are not providing. It means answering questions about our goods or services in an honest, transparent fashion. With open, honest communication you can now apply the next discipline…..
2) Being Present – Presence
Being present is not just being physically present in the room. Being present means being fully available to the other. It is not just about being, but being available; about letting the other or others know that, in the moment, you are fully available to them to hear their views and concerns.
For consultants, coaches, therapists and trainers, it means being fully attentive and available without imposing yourself and your beliefs on to your clients.
One curse, and one of my pet hates, of virtual technology is the ability of the participants on a call to turn off their cameras. For all I know, the individual has gone to the shops or is speaking to a friend on the phone.
If training, I now clarify that I’m not prepared to give CPD recognition or engage in conversation with a blank box or a name unless there are compelling reasons for the camera being switched off.
Without a stance of “Presence” it is impossible to move into the next phase.
3. Seeking to fully understand the world of the Other
Philosopher Martin Buber has influenced much of my thinking around communication and these four stances. He developed a philosophy of Dialogue which recognises our experience of ourselves when we are in relation with another. I often quote him as discussing “I-thou” moments. I.e., moments when we are fully engaged with the other person, and we experience meaningful connection. Buber describes this as Inclusion, whereby we try to enter the world of the other person in order to fully understand them. The crucial element is not to judge them but to understand them.
Without this stance, we cannot meaningfully engage with the last element.
… requires that we do not judge the person, but we confirm and affirm them as who they are. They may then hear us when we challenge their behaviours. Coaches and therapists will recognise the importance of ‘confirmation’ and diversity communicators will embrace the importance of recognising the difference between the individual and their behaviour.
To sum up, it is important to recognise being a diversity communicator begins with an attitude of seeking to understand the person or people we are communicating with. Just as a good salesperson understands the importance of listening an excellent communicator appreciates it is an art which improves with practice.