One. Saying, “I am sorry” is not the same thing as saying “I am wrong” or “I am at fault” or “I am to blame.” I am sorry that this thing happened or that my email made you feel this way is different than saying I did this thing and I am at fault or that my email was out or line or incorrect. When to take responsibility is and the benefits of this approach are topics for another post. The point here is simple – “I am sorry” is not an admission of guilt. So, maybe it is something you could say more often. Those three words make a big impact and go a long way towards connecting with more people (clients, managers, subordinates) having more of an impact.
Two. Trying to understand someone else’s point of view is different than agreeing with them. We engage in conversations with the wrong mindset. We listen for disagreement, check for accuracy, and look for windows to rebut. This approach doesn’t move us forward – it isn’t profitable and doesn’t lead to innovation. It is more effective to strap on your seatbelt and to make a mental declaration that you are in it for the long haul. Decide to be in the conversation until you can see the other persons point of view. Commit to understanding their perspective and to continuing the dialogue until you appreciate where they are coming from. Respond with “I really hear what you are saying.” This is not synonymous with “I agree with your approach.” You lose nothing and create the opportunity for connection and collaboration down the road.