We can all agree that there is a need to improve how we communicate. You may have already decided that this is something you want to work on – but are you ready to go one step further and commit to making a change? There is a big difference between wanting to change your behaviour and committing to doing it. It’s only by committing to change that we can really make – and accelerate – progress.
The Five Promises
Read the following five promises and think about each one in turn. Are they things you can commit to? Making and keeping all five promises will lead to increased levels of understanding and empathy, making communication easier and reducing conflict and misunderstandings.
- 1. I promise to be responsible for myself by taking ownership of my actions, feelings and needs and not projecting my fears and insecurities onto others.
- 2. I promise to be present and curious by focusing on what others think and feel and listening to understand rather than just advise.
- 3. I promise to tame my ego by accepting responsibilities and constructive criticism and not taking myself too seriously.
- 4. I promise to use collective intelligence by sharing the burden and not doing everything alone.
- 5. I promise to own my assumptions by not assuming what is true for me is true for others.
The Importance of Accountability
If you have decided to commit to these promises there is another step you can take to help make sure the commitment sticks. Sharing a commitment makes us more likely to honour it (Shteynberg & Galinsky, 2011) (Cialdini, 1984). So think about your promises and be clear in your mind: who do you want to achieve this with? “Everyone” would be fabulous, but it’s better to start small and grow from there rather than go big and inevitably fail.
Start with one person – and start with a conversation
Talk together about what you want to get out of this commitment, explaining why you think it will help your work and your relationship. Just by talking about your commitment you are making yourself more accountable, but the very best sort of commitment is one that actively involves someone else – could you make these promises together? By doing this and agreeing to hold each other accountable you’ll be making the strongest possible start towards lasting self-change.
Shteynberg, G., & Galinsky, A. D. (2011). Implicit coordination: Sharing goals with similar others intensifies goal pursuit. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(6), 1291–1294. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2011.04.012