Providing competent professional service is a two-act structure consisting of knowledge of the tools and processes as well as knowing the population you serve.
Knowing the population you serve may seem like a purely intellectual enterprise ringed with the ideals of objectivity and distance. Yet, we need to recognize the affective component of knowing any population that hinders objectivity.
A professional can never be truly object; we all experience people and situations through the lens of our beliefs, values, goals, history, and worldview.
Perhaps to truly approach objectivity requires self-awareness of your personal goals, motivations, and reason for what you have chosen to profess.
There is a way to resist negative peer pressure or the judgemental conduct of others around you: Make a public commitment to your position and welcome mild attacks.
At the start of any negative interaction, stating your commitment to your position or conviction publicly is key. Standing up to your conviction will make you less susceptible or open to negative peer pressure or shaming.
Research shows that when you attack a committed person just enough for them to react but not become overwhelmed (a mild attack), they become more committed.
In fact, several mild attacks can immunize a person and empower them to resist more powerful attacks against their position.
Mild attacks stimulate us to reflect on counterarguments. Several studies suggest that counterarguing helps people build their resistance against persuasion.
I believe everyone can agree that, generally, if a person crosses someone’s boundary, it would be great if the offended person spoke up. It would be great if everyone abstained from coping with any life issue using passive or passive-aggressive behavior.
Yet, we do need to acknowledge the difficulty of calling someone out where a power imbalance exist. Dealing with power is more art than science. It can be quite challenging to speak truth where candor is not valued in organizational relationships.
If you asked an HR professional for their honest opinion, they would probably say that many of the issues they deal with could have been avoided if the parties involved had simply had a conversation about the issue first.
Easier said than done many would say. No.
It does take courage and skill to speak your truth to power. However the key is connecting the issue to values.
We often try to change others or set boundaries based on our values (what’s important to me). Yet, we need to acknowledge that people don’t willingly change unless something they value is at stake.
If by offending someone I put something of value to me at risk, I will be more willing to change to protect what’s valuable to me. Everyone, no matter how altruistic, is motivated at some level by self-interest or the desire to survive.
It can be challenging to view the issue from another person’s perspective. If you draw a blank when you wonder “what value is at risk for them,” it probably means you don’t know them.
Here are four tips for developing the skill of speaking your truth to power:
Remind yourself that your goal is to “build a deeper connection with the other person”;
Be in tune with the value(s) of the other person in the specific context and frame the issue from their perspective (what they value);
Start the conversation by focusing on the value at risk and avoid beginning with your interpretation;
Be open to changing your perception (interpretation), by inviting them to communicate their perspective.
Assertiveness takes practice. It is a firm pathway for speaking truth to power.
Contact us at 1.866.377.0165 to book a mini-course on “Speaking Truth to Power” or to gain access to a 15 minute video that you can use to lead a team discussion.