In our last issue, we talked about integrity as a way to tidy up our surroundings with a focus on cleanliness. Cleanliness isn’t about being clean for clean sake. It allows for both function and flow through its simplicity and improves the chances we can address these complex, messy times we live in. This week we deepen the scope of what integrity can mean in our lives through complete communication.
Experience: No Show. ‘I will meet you there at 2:00 PM’, that’s what the voice on the other end of the phone said. 2 o’clock comes and goes…and then 2:30. No one shows. When I used to rent out rooms in a three flat apartment building, this happened countless times. I would be left standing on the porch waiting. It was so rare to get a direct call from someone running late or deciding to cancel that when it DID happen, I would go out of my way to attract this person! By showing me that they cared enough to communicate, they separated themselves from the other possible applicants. Many more times no message or follow-up took place. You can learn a lot about a person from when and how they show up for appointments. If they arrive early, on time, or slightly late then chances were this is how they would ALWAYS behave. Another difference was how completely they communicated about it.
Relevance: Complete Communication. How often have you been confused about someone’s behaviors or unclear about expectations? This is something most of us need to navigate on a regular basis. Someone promises to take an action, and then they don’t deliver what is expected and/or when it is expected. When this happens, we can often trace the cause back to incomplete communication. The good news is, we can almost always “clean up” and complete our communication when we notice it lacking. Complete communication can strengthen our relationships.
Practice: Integrity of Communication
- Commitment Language: One of the most powerful ways to ensure complete communication is to use the words “I will…” Using this language wakes up the brain and sears the synapses of both the person making and receiving the commitment. Try this out if you regularly miss or avoid deadlines or commitments.
- Direct line: When locking in a commitment or appointment, ask the person the best way to reach them directly if something changes. That way, you can make a new plan that will cause the least harm to both or all of those involved. Include this direct line into your calendar notes or notebook so you access it quickly and easily.
- Follow-up to Clean-up: If you do make a “mess” with something you do or don’t do, take time to clean it up! Set a time to reach that person. Just letting it simmer is a form of avoidance and will cause damage to any relationship; especially over time.
- Take 100% responsibility: “I’m sorry, my…(insert long, dramatic story).” It sounds innocent enough. You miss a deadline or commitment and then tell a story describing why you didn’t follow through. But this actually continues the cycle of harm because the recipient has to wade through it, spend their time listening to it, and take energy away from something else. Rather than apologize, let them know that you broke your commitment and want to take full responsibility. Discuss the impact you had by NOT meeting the commitment rather than give excuses or apologies. Then discuss possible options for making things better. Before you finish, be sure to decide on a renewed commitment.