Have you ever been in a meeting with someone who just keeps pushing their agenda and not listening to the others in the room?
Whether you decided it consciously or not, have you ever found yourself stopping to argue your point, even though you completely disagree?
I don’t know about you, but I find this dynamic super frustrating.
Awareness can foster change
Most of us tend to fall into one of two conversational patterns: stepping up or stepping back. The tendency doesn’t have to be drastic; however, it can be exacerbated during challenging or conflictual conversations.
Where do you fall?
1. Stepping up in conversations.
Some of us have a natural tendency to step up in conversations. This tendency describes people who feel easily comfortable sharing their point of view. These people really want to make sure that everyone knows what they’re thinking. They’ll speak freely in meetings and tend to dominate conversations. It’s not rare for these people to sometimes step up a little too often.
I happen to be one of the people who falls into this category – so it’s no wonder that I chose a speaking career!
I have been very aware of my tendency to speak up my entire life. And although there are many benefits to speaking up, it can also cause problems in meetings Especially with those who aren’t even aware of this tendency.
2. Stepping back in conversations.
On the other hand, there are people who have a tendency to step back in conversations. These types of people tend to be more comfortable sharing their opinions in one-on-one conversations, or in smaller rather than larger groups. They tend to be more reluctant to share their point of view if they’re not being called on specifically to do so. They tend to be great listeners. But sometimes, they don’t get a voice in meetings at all.
Is your natural tendency to step up or to step back in conversations?
Have you identified your natural tendency yet?
Just in case you think you’re identified where you fall and are relieved that you’re in the “better” category… let me stop you right there.
One tendency is not better than the other. Each has its pros and cons.
In meetings, people with each of these different conversational styles tend to perpetuate the dynamic of the other. For instance, if you’re somebody who tends to step up, you probably don’t leave a lot of space for those who step back to be heard. And if you’re somebody who steps back, it’s likely that you end up leaving all of the speaking space to the person who steps up and is dominating.
In order to establish a more balanced dynamic within your workplace setting, why not have a conversation with your employees to introduce them to the concept of these different conversational dynamics?
As a leader, you can encourage everyone to reflect on their own natural conversational tendency. You could even go so far as to have everyone identify their natural tendency on an index card on the table at the beginning of meetings. Or the card could indicate if their goal for the meeting is to step up or step back more than usual.
Bringing an awareness to everyone’s style and to their intention for a meet opens a space for everyone to respectfully encourage one another to be more balanced in their contributions to the conversation.
If you’ve tried your best to establish more effective communication patterns within your team, but are still looking for more guidance, my workshops and keynotes can help you and your team to unlock the secrets to stress-free communication.
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