It’s easy to label a person who feels negative as a killjoy and a nuisance without considering any further what drives their behaviour. But what makes someone be the person who always sees the risks and threats, and who always asks the irritating and difficult questions?
It’s dangerous to strive for flawlessness
If someone never makes mistakes, it can, in theory, mean that they’re a supreme being alike to an omnipotent god. However, it’s more likely that they’re someone who plays it safe and polishes their work ad nauseum.
It can’t make you angry if it’s the truth, right?
The truth hurts and shames us, which leads to indignation, defensiveness and even attacks. That’s why before voicing criticism it pays off to consider if the relationship is strong enough for critique, if you’ve done your homework well enough and if your phrasing is sufficiently tactful.
You get better feedback by asking for it
Ask for precise and specific feedback on a topic you’ve chosen yourself to work on. Then it’s easier for people to give you useful and concrete feedback, and it’s easier for you to receive it and use it to improve yourself.
Uncertainty isn’t an insurmountable obstacle to pair programming
If a thought feels uncomfortable, we immediately interpret that to mean it’s a bad idea. Then we come up with logical and rational explanations for why an idea that feels bad is a bad idea. However, we shouldn’t.
Is it our biggest problem that people don’t read?
One tech professional told me once in a fit of frustration, “Elisa, the biggest communication problem this organisation has is that people simply don’t read.” But if we know for a fact that people don’t read, is that then a problem – or a fact of life that we need to adjust to?
Practice listening for five minutes every day
Listening requires practice and uses up energy. That’s why it’s a good idea to practice listening for five minutes every day. You’ll get more out of your practice if you choose beforehand which area of listening you’re going to be practicing, with whom and when.
Hanlon’s razor teaches us to interpret things better
People have a tendency to assume that anything unpleasant was done with malicious intent. However, Hanlon’s razor tells us, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect.”
We fail at communication because we fear failing at communication
Because we fear that our communication might fail, we panic about our responses, we don’t admit that we don’t understand, we try to be too fast and always right. All of this takes the focus away from the situation and shifts it to ourselves. However, the answer can’t be found within us.
Build trust by giving yourself more precise deadlines
Dogged by imprecise promises, stretching schedules and constant hurry, clients aren’t used to someone making a clearly defined promise – let alone keeping it.