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We can take the people around us for granted, knowing that they are there and expecting them to fulfil their role, what ever that might be.
But how often do we pause and consider whether we’re enabling those people to be their best?
We have a direct impact on the behaviour and wellbeing of those around us, and when we get that right, we also benefit.
Someone’s sense of psychological safety is a good predictor of how engaged they are in their activities and with the people around them. It is not rocket science to realise that someone who feels safe to be authentic, for example by making mistakes, asking questions, challenging others’ opinions, are going to bring their whole selves to that situation.
Supportive relationships should be predictable, based on trust and promote experimentation i.e. not always getting things right.
People need to be aware of hierarchy, whether that is about role or perceptions of experience, expertise and confidence.
When people feel safe to take risks and express themselves honestly and openly, they are more engaged with those around them.
So how do you empower those people around you? Whether they’re your children, your work colleagues, your friends… how do you create energy and collaboration? We need:
Autonomy – an experience of being trusted
A voice which is heard, respected and followed up on
To know which boundaries are ok to push and which are not, knowing that people around you have your back, perhaps seeking for forgiveness rather than permission
Communication that is based on transparency, timely information, clarity about expectations and responsibilities and where feedback is sought
Recognition of our contribution in a way that is meaningful and frequent, so that we know we are appreciated
To be supported to grow – to follow our interests and tease out barriers to achieving our aspirations
It’s easy to assume we fulfil these aspects of empowerment but we really need to ask those around us how they feel.
And we need to consider for ourselves how empowered we are. At a personal level, when we know what we are missing in terms of our connections with others, we can begin to gently communicate that. Perhaps:
Suggest something that you could take more control of
Provide more feedback, that begins with the positives
Ask questions to clarify expectations
Provide information and state what you need in return and how it is helpful
Acknowledge the effort that others have made and let people know what you have been doing
And communicate what you’re aiming for, what you might be stuck with and what help you need.
You can control you. You can influence your connections.
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