Operating in the business world is often likened to swimming through shark-infested waters. Predators and pirates abound. Troves of lucrative booty are in short supply, or so it seems, and everyone is out scavenging for their share of the proverbial pot of gold.
Business people appear to want to outwit, outsmart, outcharm their competitors because that’s how a good pirate plays the game, isn’t it? Rivals bully and cajole their imagined usurpers through intimidation. They send passive aggressive emails. They undermine and belittle in meetings. They form cliques. Because a storm is permanently brewing, ready to sink the company ship.
It’s a scary environment to navigate. But globally there is a social movement to do business differently. To empower others with knowledge and to listen and learn from one another. To cultivate kindness and offer clarity. To admit to and, in fact, claim a shared sense of vulnerability as being something of value, rather than shame. (Thank you, Brené Brown.)
At the 2020 Academy Awards, Joaquin Phoenix declared with disarming passion: “I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out… but when we help each other to grow … when we guide each other… That is the best of humanity.”
Is this approach practical and actionable in the average corporate environment? Can one keep the bottom line steady and still be kind? At Lemonade Hub, we believe it’s not only possible, but imperative.
We partner with businesses to revise and enhance their communication strategies, both internally and externally, to reflect this ethos. We help to craft and curate a company culture, philosophy and voice that is authentic and humane while still being fiscally strategic – one that empowers employees and clients alike, shares content that provides insight, knowledge and information in language people understand. Communication materials that are clearly worded, connecting and relatable. We develop training programmes that do the same.
Here are our top tips for creating a constructive and empowering company culture:
1. Never talk down to people
Not everyone has the same training, education, frame of reference or business/technical vocabulary. Be patient and if you sense someone doesn’t follow your reasoning, argument or train of thought, slow it down and ask them to rephrase something or whether they have any questions. Make people feel safe to ask the questions they need to in order to learn and connect with you.
2. Listen. Listen. Listen
Really listen to others. Don’t anticipate their line of thought or your response. Take the time to pay attention. To truly hear. To get it. To understand. Nothing is more empowering to an individual than being truly heard. And the insight you will gain from the process as well as the discipline it instills is an invaluable resource.
3. If you win an argument, be kind (and humble)
Award-winning novelist Haruki Murakami remarked: “Always remember that to argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against. It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right.” Don’t gloat when you win. Rather be inclusive and gracious. Also, be patient and give people time to process your victory. A real win is when people don’t begrudge you for it.
4. Always be clear
Avoid being vague or non-committal (see below). It makes people nervous and insecure. Clear is kind. It’s also right. And courageous. If you have a hard truth to communicate, just get it done. And directly linked to being clear is the issue of commitment. Don’t leave people hanging. Commit to your yes or your no. Make your decision and give clear answers. Maybes serve no-one.
5. Always give a response
Life is busy, yes. But not responding to an email, text, etc. is out. Even if you simply acknowledge receipt, do so. Then try and establish a timeframe for a measured response. It’s just manners. And it matters.
So the next logical question is to ask you to respond to this blog. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re giving away two free 1-hour consultations with our team!