A to Z of people skills – Openness

August 31st, 2012

To me, openness is more a state of mind than a skill with some elements of developing skills and behaviours. We all interact with other people at work, whether as colleagues, managers, customers, suppliers, consultants. We all have information that others need, including our own opinions and feedback. Yet, many of these things aren’t discussed – particularly where feedback is concerned and emotions are often involved.

There are two aspects about being open:

  • first is open and honest in your communication to others
  • second is being open to listen when others communicate with you

When talking to others, particularly giving feedback and difficult messages, you need to be clear about delivering the whole message. Many people shy away from dealing with difficult conversations, anticipating “conflict and confrontation” rather than “confronting the issue”. In the last few days, I have listened to lots of feedback – positive and negative – about people within the same business. The vast majority have not delivered any of these messages themselves.

When you ask people if they are open to new ideas / feedback / suggestions, they often say “yes” and then, when someone tries something new, they get berated or argued with.

Part of my role with this client is to collect some of the feedback and collate it, so it is anonymous and the other part is to help them develop the skills to do this themselves and deliver their messages first hand, promptly and assertively, treating people well and helping them retain and grow their skill-base.

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