- Third Path in the 8-Fold Path: The Right Speech
By Joe Giordano
“While right view refers to the cognitive aspect of wisdom, right intention refers to the volitional aspect, i.e. the kind of mental energy that controls our actions. Right intention can be described best as commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement.” Thomas Knierim, Editor & Webmaster, TheBigView.com
In this article, the third in this series (see links below), we examine how you, your team and your organization can foster collaboration and agility through Right Speech.
1. Abstain from false speech, especially deliberate lies and speaking deceitfully.
Our natural human survival tendency is to take care of oneself. This can happen both consciously and unconsciously. Often we are faced with situations in our daily interactions that force us into a self-preservation mode—a mode that at times causes us to do and say things that may stretch the truth. “That item is on its way…” is one of my favorite responses when confronted with a deadline and then I frantically produce what was asked of me, albeit late. While this might not be an outright lie because I was actually thinking about working on the item, it wasn’t 100% true either. When we start to lie, we usually have to cover that up with other not so significant lies. As these add up, so does our anxiety.
The anxiety mounts as our worries increase and we get deeper and deeper into our own little hole of stress. To avoid this cycle, be honest with oneself (see the Right Intent) and be honest with others. As humans, we have a huge amount of compassion that we can share and honesty brings out that compassion.
As one of my first mentors at Synecticsworld, Marvin Smith, once said to me:
“Worrying is praying for failure…” Don’t worry as you are imagining the worst that could happen. Flip that around and find in yourself what is the best that could happen and it will put you in a new mode away from preservation to that of collaboration.
2. Abstain from slanderous speech and do not use words maliciously against others.
Malicious words come in so many forms. From the outright negative commentary that we often hear in this day of pre-election television advertisements, to the subtle less overt undertones that we often here in conversations and meetings. If we look at the bright side of the communication in meetings, people are usually trying to make a point. They just don’t realize the affect that they might be having on others. They don’t realize this because often times (up to 50%) there is a disconnect between what we intended to communicate and how it has been received.
Take this onus on yourself to clarify what someone meant by what they had just said. We too often subject ourselves to “I can’t believe he just said that to me…” instead of indicating what we think we heard someone just say and asking for clarification by the speaker. This is a collaborative way to clear the air and set the tone correctly for future communication and above all, set the record straight.
3. Abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others.
Communicating thoughtfully helps unite others and heal dissention especially in a creative and collaborative situation. In any type of meeting, there are conversations, interruptions, over-talking, floor time and general chitchat. We are often not very mindful of how our words have an effect on people. However, studies have shown that when we communicate with others in person, it is the tonality and the body language that communicates the message. We need to be mindful of all three when we have the floor.
I do want to mention one of the most offensive phrases you can use in a collaborative setting: “Do you think that…” This is a phrase that limits both the thought and collaborative processes and removes any hope that that individual will openly discuss any ideas in the future. Instead, if you find yourself questioning someone’s idea and you feel the idea lacks something, try to change “Do you think…” to “How to (do something)…” so that you are building on the other person’s thought process. Then, ask that person to elaborate and create a vision around their thinking.
4. Abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth.
Idle chatter takes up air and mind space. It often gets in the way of true productivity. I have been privy to many meetings and the lack of focus and planning creates the environment that condones getting nothing done. To make your meetings more efficient and effective, make sure that you have a keen plan with a targeted outcome.
Use the idle chatter to establish a climate of openness, new thinking and safety. Utilize a climate setter to ignite the process so that you can get to the work quicker. Ask the team a question outside of their normal realm—“Describe your favorite childhood toy, without telling us the name…” Get the participants of your meeting into a mode of contribution to the outcome.
By resolving never to speak unkindly, to speak with a positive purpose and never in anger, a spirit of consideration ensues which moves us closer to everyday collaboration. And from that collaboration, we as one, can solve any problem we are faced with.
This is the Third Article in this series