March 25, 2021
By Dave Bushy
Perhaps the most important skill a leader can have is to engage in timely, appropriate and ultimately successful conversations with others.
So often things get in the way. It might be that we are uncomfortable with the other person or the subject is something that we have been avoiding. Sometimes it is just our own reluctance or what we project to be the resistance of the other individual. And it could well be that we have spent so much time coming up with our own script and arguments prior to engaging in conversation that we forget the goal of any interaction is connecting with another.
Whether it’s a coaching moment, a periodic review, or a status check on a project, the best approach for a leader is to create a container of communication and trust with another. We achieve that by focusing our effort on understanding the person and working to appreciate their viewpoint. We can do that by forfeiting our innate desire to respond to the other person with our own perspective or argument.
In other words, the best approach is to have the planned outcome to be that of merely learning about the other. That intent helps us join with someone. Initially the vehicle to achieve that is completely one-sided, with a commitment on our part of not using that time to present our own thoughts or opinions. It may seem counterintuitive, perhaps because it is not commonly used in today’s conversations.
In coaching, I often suggest a short acronym to clients called “CLIP.” It’s a simple memory-aid that goes like this:
The CLIP acronym can help you overcome your own resistance to engaging with another. It allows you to hear a person’s viewpoints and it does something else that is equally powerful: It models a behavior for those around you.
When you use CLIP routinely, it can naturally follow in future conversations with “Would you be interested in my viewpoints? I’d be glad to explain them if you’re curious.”
Dave Bushy of Boston Executive Coaches – bostonexecutivecoaches.com – is a former U.S. Army officer and senior airline executive who works with leaders throughout American industry.