5 Ways you can help your team open up and bring their guard down

by Sergio Sedas - Helping leaders become the leader that EVERYONE wants to have.

We want people to be creative, to share information, to challenge ideas and the status quo, to take ownership, and to be accountable. Yet we fear people that come to challenge our ideas. We avoid situations where we might have to talk and express your differences, where we might have to confront and challenge someone. We shudder at the thought of making a visible mistake. And we shy away from telling our boss, our colleagues and our investors, what we really think.

However to be creative, to challenge ideas and the status quo, you and every member in your team must be willing to drop your guard, to be uncomfortable, to make mistakes, and to be wrong. You have to be humble enough to listen. Brave enough to express your ideas. And open enough to accept what others have to say. All for a greater good.

Are you and your team ready? 

Let me share with you 5 things that you can do to help your team open up and bring their guard down.

5 Ways you can help your team open up and bring their guard down

Although it is a key to effortless success, having a comfortable, open and transparent communication is many times difficult for people in your organization. We tend to keep our guards up which keeps us from expressing our ideas, accepting feedback and great ideas, and actively listening to others. 

Here are 7 things that you can do to help you and your team build up confidence and bring your guard down. 

1, Use the Gradient Approach

For some people letting their guard down enough to share their ideas, give feedback and listen to feedback is a daunting task. Ask them to do it and they will shut down, they will avoid future confrontation, and it will be difficult for you to get them to open up again. However you can gradually help them bring incrementally increase their level of comfort.

In my workshops I do a number of exercises that incrementally increase their comfort level and ultimately develop trust, confidence and open relationships.  

I give them tasks that require people to share and communicate. Now, rather than having one person express their ideas in front of a group, I start by pairing everyone in groups of two. Then as the confort level increases I pair them in groups of 4 and then bigger groups.

What we discuss in each round starts with something that might give people a low level of discomfort. For example each person shares 3 successes they had last week or 3 things they like about another person´s idea. 

As the group comfort level advances, we take on more interesting and challenging communication tasks. We continue to build up until the team is ready to participate in very powerful open critique and feedback sessions such as hot-seats, a dynamic in which people present their ideas and purposely request feedback that identifies what works and critiques what does not work. With a high level of comfort, we are ready to have open discussions in which everyone participates, challenges and contributes. 

Reaching a high level of comfort and open communication in the team is extremely valuable and will help you and your team enjoy work, meet higher goals and reach effortless success. 

2. Be the last to speak

Be aware that many people will hold back from challenging you or your ideas. You can overcome this by being the last to speak. Incite people to give share their ideas. Perhaps organize a round-robin in which every person in consecutive order is given 2 minutes to share their thoughts and ideas. Listen and be aware of what they say. Take it in. After a few rounds, acknowledge them and their contributions and express your idea and/or support the best idea on the table. Remember, you do not have to always have the last word and you do not always have to be the author of the best idea on the table. Let the best idea win. 

3. Share a ridiculous idea that everyone can easily tear down

It is easier to critique a bad idea than to come up with a good one. A technique to spark discussion and drive creativity is to blurt out a ridiculous idea that everyone can tear down. Then have everyone in the room tear it down and suggest better alternatives. 

4. Incite participation

In order to get buy in, everyone has to feel heard. Make sure that everyone gives their input. Whether they agree or not, make sure that everyone gives their input.

There are a number of techniques that you can use. The VP International at Heineken introduced the concept of 3 colored cards to incite discussion in his team. Cards were laid on the table. At anytime any person could life up one of these cards. The red one said "I challenge your idea". You would pick this one up if you wanted to challenge an idea that was on table and/or that was being discussed. A green card said "Ask me why I agree" and incited the person to express what they agreed with and liked about the idea. A grey card said "Stop beating on the dead horse" and was pulled up when anyone thought that someone in the group was going around and around in circles, effectively "beating on the dead horse", In agreement, people that do not speak up are assumed to be in disagreement and must express why they disagree and what they propose. 

Another technique that you can use is "the 6 thinking hats" method developed and published by Edward DeBono. People often see different aspects of a similar problem. Some will see the vision of the future. Some will see the facts. Some will see the problems that may arise. This makes it difficult to carry on a conversations, particularly when each person is viewing the same problem from a different perspective. Having a conversation where each one is talking about a different issue can lead you and your team to frustration and to a feeling that their point of view is not being heard. And when people feel unheard, they begin to take positions, cease to listen and try harder to get their point of view across. "The 6 thinking hats" can help you to get your team to look at problems from the different perspectives one at a time. This allows people to feel heard, view the problems from different perspectives, and come up to a better solution.  

Silence is a very powerful technique to incite participation. Look at someone that has not participated and ask them a specific question such as "what do you think we can improve?" or "what do you think could work better?". Once you ask the question be silent until they reply. The awkwardness of silence many times encourages people to express an idea. Once they let their first words out, it will be easier for them to participate. 

5. Jumpstart listening, sharing, engagement, and collaboration in your team.

I just shared with you 4 simple ways to help your team open up and bring their guard down, creating a path for fruitful teamwork and collaboration. 

However, if you would like to jumpstart listening, sharing, engagement, and collaboration in your team, I suggest you have a Bring Out the Best in You™ session with your team. In just a few hours you and your team will be open and ready to share ideas, collaborate and take your organization on a quicker path to effortless success.

Call us now for a free consultation.

To your success,

Sergio Sedas
Helping leaders become the leader that EVERYONE wants to have.

Any thoughts or comments ? Leave them here. And let me know, what do you do to be the leader that everyone wants to have.

#engagement    #betheleaderthateveryonewants    #leadership

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