Ignite Organizational Chi for thriving teams, ignite@intunecollective.com

So much of what team leaders want from their teams is smooth handoffs, collaboration, creativity, and less drama or all out conflict.

Looking under the hood a couple of layers, we can see that the quality of interpersonal and group communication lies as the bedrock of how well these dynamics can or cannot go.


Oral, written, unspoken – all conveys how people feel whether these feelings are articulated or not.

Any tensions or unsolved emotional context can be felt by those in the room, even a virtual room.

As such, what’s shared at a more surface, but equally important level – input, feedback, questions, agreements, consent, etc., – is often clouded and not necessarily clear enough to all participants to take direct action on.

How many times have you left a meeting thinking that you’ve made a decision, but you learn later that there were side conversations, lobbying for a point of view, or back-tracking on what was said in the meeting? Too often, I’m sure!

Let’s break it down into two steps.

1. Listening

When we’re in the room, listening from a deeper place within ourselves has a great impact on outcomes.

Otto Scharmer, senior lecturer at MIT and the founding chair of its Presencing Institute, teaches that there are four levels of listening:

2. Sharing

The second aspect of communication is Sharing. Note that I’m not using the term “speaking,” but rather intentionally using the term Sharing as it encompasses all ways that we communicate in the workplace:

  • Writing
  • Giving feedback
  • Making requests and agreements
  • Setting boundaries
  • Consenting
  • Repairing
  • Making decisions

Sharing is putting information out that gives your point of view on a topic or an idea. It can also communicate feelings or context that hints at the complexity of thought or the human experience.

It’s best to think of sharing as a two-way street: I share my part, and you share yours.

Unfortunately, we too often turn communication into a competitive sport, emphasizing “winning” over “win-win.”

We seek to dominate so that our ideas overshadow others. When we create a negative impact, we often lack the skills to make amends so that the human relationship can move forward with ease and real connection.

Here are a few key concepts that can help us move forward in ways that allow for multiple voices and views and improve communication.

Working together requires give and take.

One-way communication is no longer acceptable as a core business practice. By communicating in ways that foster more inclusion, workplaces have the opportunity to tap into new perspectives, talent, and experiences of all employees:

Everyone has a need to be seen, heard, and valued. This is a fundamental human need and we will contort ourselves in relationships to be validated in these ways unless we can self-validate first.

Create a team playbook.

Here’s an example from Abby Falik, founder of The Global Citizen Year, on how to best communicate with, understand, and meet her needs as the leader of her organization. Being transparent up front can create a lot of clarity and avoid misunderstandings later on!

Create space for sharing anytime the team is together.

Some great prompts to share include:

  • “What’s something you see that you’d like me to know?”
  • “What’s the biggest thing on your mind?”
  • “How can I support you now?”
  • “What’s something you’re proud of and want to share?”

Open-ended questions like these set up the opportunity for open, honest conversations that might not otherwise happen as readily.

So go on, listen more deeply, connect more through sharing, and practice holding space for honest, timely, constructive conversation between you and your teammates.

Planning For Success

Intune can work with your current leadership style to help you explore listening and sharing as a communication style.

Meet with Wendy Horng Brawer, Intune Partner, for a 30-minute consultation. We can help.

Bring your business desires; we will walk with you to co-create your new reality.