In a conversation with a new friend yesterday, the topic of boundaries came up. We were discussing how important and satisfying it is to focus our energy in our businesses on those clients that really "feed" us...those with whom we feel the most connection.
How often have you had a conversation with a new acquaintance or potential client that felt a bit "off"? Something about the connection didn't quite fit, rather like a jigsaw puzzle piece that was not cut correctly. Rather than bashing the piece with a hammer to MAKE it fit, it's wiser to leave it out. And with a potential client, it's wiser to politely decline to provide service.
It's so important to "respect your no" when you know you're not the best person to offer service to someone. We often joke about saying to others, "What part of NO didn't you understand?" But we're often too ready to disrespect our own boundaries!
The same applies to your tasks. How often do you take on a project or task that makes you feel "off" the same way? Perhaps you really don't have the time or inclination to take care of it. Perhaps it's something you don't have the expertise or experience to handle properly. Why then take that hammer to it and force yourself? There's always someone to delegate to!
When I first started my business many years ago, I would provide any service to any client, as long as they'd pay me. Over time I realized I was not honoring the best in myself, or in my clients, and began to politely say "no" to certain tasks and certain people.
If you don't enforce your own boundaries, then who will? How can you expect others to respect your "lines in the sand" if you don't yourself? Remember, we always show others how to treat us...and your intention to violate your own rules means you're showing the universe that's just fine. Expect the best from yourself, and FOR yourself!
When I collaborate with a client, I know that being able to easily share files is critical to smooth sailing. We need to work off the same set of documents, and we need access to all the same supporting materials.
We've all experienced the trauma (ok, maybe not trauma, but certainly stress!) of sharing documents by email. It's so easy to lose track of what changes have been made, and by whom. Instead, use a virtual "file cabinet" like Google Drive or Dropbox, or a project management system like Asana, to store items every team member will need.
Set up project folders with explicit titles so that anyone on the team can easily find what they're looking for. Within those folders, store anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that a team member might need. You might want a folder for images, one for applications, one for setup or venue - consider the aspects of your particular project that make the most sense to organize the folders.
When changes are made to a file, ensure that it's saved back into the same folder so you don't end up with multiple versions of the same document - something I see often! You may want to have team member save items they have edited as "V1 date, V2 date," so it's easy to tell at a glance what the most recent update is, and yet you will still be able to recover previous versions if something goes wrong. AND, as I said, you won't have ten of the same file saved! Tip: be sure to include the date in the file name.
Whenever I manage a project I like to outline everything up front in a team meeting, so everyone is "on the same page" about timelines, roles, and how communication will be handled. Be sure to have regular meetings with subsets of the team sharing the same roles. Set expectations up front so there are no surprises!
Have you ever noticed two people having a conversation but neither is hearing the other? I have experienced that myself - haven't we all? Did you realize there are levels of comprehension involved?
Hearing is, of course, the mechanical, physical act of perceiving sound. You hear words and comprehend them. Listening is active...you pay attention to what you are hearing. You focus, sit in silence, and take in the words and their meaning, while observing subtle cues like facial expressions and body language.
Understanding is another level entirely. What you take in is not always what is expressed. You each come from your own unique viewpoint, history, communication styles, and word usage.
To communicate effectively in a conversation, you can check in with the other person to validate what you're understanding. "What I hear you saying is...." "So, you think that...." You may find that you either missed a point, or misunderstood entirely, and this gives the other person a chance to reword their message.
Too often in our culture we listen with the intent to respond. Of course conversation is a give-and-take exchange, but true listening has the intent to understand, not always respond. Worst of all is when someone responds with, "Well, I...." Immediately turning the focus on yourself completely negates the message of the other person.
A form of listening also occurs in written exchanges like text or email. Using the correct words in the correct context, tailoring your message for your audience, and asking for feedback can help smooth the path to clear understanding. As a "listener" to a written conversation, be sure to read carefully and take the time for full comprehension before responding.
Becoming more mindful in conversation, both written and verbal, can lead to clearer understanding and better relationships!