Dr. Henry Cloud’s Leadership Rules of Engagement
We engage in respectful, collaborative, timely, and complete dialogue. We clearly and directly convey ideas and share our points of view, while maintaining openness to different perspectives. We listen to understand and respectfully question to achieve clarity, in both message and mutual expectations. We openly discuss critical issues and deliver difficult messages with care. We commit to not leaving important things unsaid, and we avoid saying them to someone other than the person who should hear them.
Cloud, Henry. 2013. Boundaries for Leaders, New York: Harper-Collins.
Dr. Henry Cloud is a psychologist, leadership expert, and New York Times bestselling author.
Going a Little Deeper on Effective Communication and Rules of Engagement
Respect each other.
Monitor your tone.
Validate another perspective even if you disagree. Validation shows someone that you are listening and trying to understand, but it does not necessarily mean you agree. Validation looks like this…”I can see that this is extremely important to you.” “I understand that we see this very differently.” “I see your passion, your hurt, your frustration, your anger..”
Listen to understand rather than to immediately defend your position.
Speak up to avoid building resentment.
Allow everyone a safe place to speak.
Show no verbal or physical aggression. When people feel threatened they stop listening.
Seek clarity rather than make assumptions about what has been said. Seeking clarity looks like this…”I am hearing you say…. Is this correct?”
Deliver messages with care.
Stay away from personal attacks. Personal attacks rarely lead to solutions.
Do not meet escalation with escalation. In other words, get calm when they get angry. Two angry people rarely accomplish anything. When they are in a hurricane of reactivity, avoid jumping in and joining them in their hurricane. Neuroscience shows us that when our amygdala (the fight or flight part of the brain) is in overdrive, we do not think rationally. When another person is reacting on pure emotion getting just as emotional will not solve anything. The more you practice staying calm the more emotionally intelligent you will become. By calming your amygdala, you engage your prefrontal cortex (the logical reasoning part of your brain) where solutions are found.
Most of the time when someone is angry, they just want to be heard. Staying calm and using validating body language can go a long way. Validating body language includes eye contact, relaxed arms down to your sides, and a possible gentle head nod up and down. (This nodding of the head does not necessarily mean I agree with you, but it does say I hear you.)