Last week I spoke about the importance of communication. I spoke about how governments, corporations, and even personal relationships are effected by poor communication and that the cause of that poor communication is baggage. I discussed how our own baggage is like armor that gets in the way of delivering and receiving effective communication. I spoke about removing the armor in order to communicate with each other more authentically, but in order to remove that armor we have to have the right environment. The right environment requires that three things be present; trust, respect, and safety.
Trust is one ingredient in effective communication. Trust is the belief that someone or something will not hurt you, abuse you, or take advantage of you. You are believing that they are looking out for your best interest. In the beginning, trust can be a matter of faith but over time, that trust is proven, earned, and granted. Trust is something that is cultivated and maintained. It is not something, that once awarded, can remain stagnate. In a healthy relationship, both participants have to show time and time again that they are worthy of trust. Trust is very fragile. It takes a lot to earn and very little to lose. When one party in a relationship has proven to be untrustworthy, that trust is taken away, it can be broken, and it can be lost. Once this has happened, it is often very difficult to get back. Trust is the foundation of any solid relationship, professional or personal. Without trust, there is no moving forward.
Respect is the second ingredient to effective communication. Respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. When you respect someone, you not only respect who they are, but also where they have been, where they want to go, and you want to share in their journey. Once trust is established, respect is needed in order to move things forward. In order to move things forward, you have to open yourself up and be vulnerable. In order to open yourself up to someone and to have them open to you, you have to respect the place they are coming from, even if that place is different than yours. Respect is not about seeing eye to eye, it is recognizing that the person, at their core, is a good person, and they reserve the right to see things differently, believe differently, and feel differently then you. Respect is not about seeing what is the same in everyone, it is about seeing what is different and moving forward in your connection.
Why is safety important when it comes to communication? Safety means that the environment in which the communication is taking place is a place where ideas, thoughts and feelings can be shared without negative repercussions. So many of us have great ideas to share but don’t because we fear ridicule. We fear being made fun of or that people won’t listen to our ideas. Having a safe environment in which to share creates an environment of trust and collaboration. It creates a culture where all people are seen as valuable contributors. People need to feel safe in order to allow themselves to be vulnerable and in turn be open to connection.
Without trust, respect, and safety, communication cannot happen effectively. The purpose of communication is to share ideas, connect with one another, move things forward, and become better through learning. What can you do in your relationships to ensure that they have all three ingredients? How can you create a place of trust, respect, and safety in your relationships?