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How We Respond Is a Choice

By Joey Havens

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We have so many choices in how we respond to each other. Too frequently in my past, if someone pitched a new idea or suggested change that, in my opinion, was something we had already tried, would be a big undertaking or was an obvious dead end, I was quick to discount it. Responses like these almost always drained the enthusiasm and energy from conversations and made it much less likely to get another idea or insight from them in the future.

Thankfully one day, a team member I work with regularly observed one of my quick dismissals on an idea from another team member and had the courage to provide me the feedback that I needed to hear.

This feedback really resonated with me because I respected the other team member so much and loved collaborating with them on ideas and new ways to do things. However, in this situation, whether it was the time pressure, the sensitivity I had on the topic or maybe it was a low priority — I made the wrong choice. After receiving this feedback, I kept it front of mind to do my best to listen to the full idea, ask clarifying questions and really explore the topic together. If time doesn’t permit or it’s a low priority, I request a meeting later so we can put our full attention to their idea.

Learning to show enthusiasm and positive energy in discussions leads us to better outcomes in numerous ways. We put people at ease. We gain the opportunity to learn more about why the team member thinks this would be a good idea. We grow our relationship and open the communication channel for future collaborations on how to #beEvenBetter. And it’s encouraging to the other person even if we do not eventually pursue the idea or change.

We always have the space to respond with our beliefs, facts or assumptions on the downside of the topic, or in some cases to say, “No, and here’s why.” Choosing to explain why helps people understand our no’s and provides an opportunity for both parties to learn something new. Explaining why is respectful and encouraging at the same time.

It’s almost always a positive experience to explore new ideas a little further. You make an investment in both yourself and the person who cares enough to share an idea with you. Positive energy is contagious.