A fundamental aspect of being an effective change-maker is to be an outstanding communicator. But so many of us fail at the very first step because we are handicapped right from the start.
Because we operate out of a place of fear, even if we don’t consciously realise it.
I’ve just come back from a week in New Delhi where I spoke at the Women Economic Forum and received an Award for ‘Iconic Women Creating a Better Place for All’. At the last count, I connected with women of 20 different nationalities. Sudanese, Finnish, Israeli, Australian, Indian, South African – the list goes on. I was humbled and inspired in equal measure as I heard some incredible stories from change-makers who had overcome abuse, grief, gender bias and discrimination to create the positive change they wanted to see in their communities, businesses and in their lives.
Woven through the many interactions I enjoyed was one common thread. Not one single woman met me with suspicion, criticism or judgement. We were 1,600 women from over 150 countries across the globe. Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, Atheist, or Agnostic, we all came together in the spirit of wanting to connect and to understand. We put aside any fear of ‘the other’ and let ourselves trust that others would meet us in a space ‘beyond fear’ that we were creating.
There was a deep level of communication and ‘being with each other’ that transcended visible differences and points of view. The quality and depth of the conversations were remarkable.
Now I know from our Women in Sustainability events how things can shift into a place of easeful communication when a group of women come together. But what I found enlightening was how much more we are able to connect, speak our truth and ‘show up’ when the fear of judgement is removed.
I know how much the fear of others has held me back at times in my career.
I’ve felt my voice fail, the words get muddled up, the resentment grow and frustration block my ability to really hear what the other person is actually saying whenever I’ve felt criticised or ‘on the back foot’.
I also know how different it feels when a non-judgemental space has been created. When we are in a conversation where we get to actively listen and be listened to. Where the focus is on creating understanding.
If your role as a change maker requires outstanding communication, what can you do differently to ensure the depth and quality of connection you need?
And how can you create non-judgement in your working space today – for yourself and others?