Communication is tough. Many of the issues that arise in the workplace relate to miscommunication in some form or another. We think we’re saying something but it’s being interpreted differently, or we are actually saying the wrong thing. Miscommunication can lead to an erosion of trust, which is crucial to a high performing team.
Roger Schwartz came up with a list of Ground Rules for effective groups or teams to help with this situation. They are:
- Test assumptions and inferences
- Share all relevant information
- Use specific examples and agree on what important terms mean
- Explain your reasoning and intent
- Focus on interests, not positions
- Combine advocacy with inquiry
- Jointly design the next steps and ways to test disagreements
- Discuss undiscussable issues
- Use a decision-making rule that generates the level of commitment needed
They sound so simple, looking at them written down like this. But these rules are based on a Mutual Learning model of the world, rather than a Unilateral Control model and it’s not easy to change your mental model. It takes discipline, commitment, self-control and persistence.
Each of these rules have a lot behind them, so I will be unpacking each of these rules over the next few blog posts to delve more into why these are so important for teams.