Running Zen has been a very fun and special experience for me. I have to be honest though, the way I look at communication between team members is very different from how most people view communication. Sometimes I ask myself, why? I believe the answer is simple: it’s just how I grew up. I was raised by my grandfather who had been through WWII and employed a very direct style of communication. My experiences growing up shaped how I communicate with others and guides our communication principles at ZenSupplies.
#1 - Respond with how you are thinking, rather than silence
If you read an email or message and think to yourself “Wow, that’s a great point”, take the time to actually add that comment! It’s a simple step, but the person who wrote the email or message will appreciate it very much. These days, it’s so easy to hide behind a screen and engage at an arm's-length, leaving people questioning what you really think. Eliminate the guesswork and try to be forthcoming with your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions.
#2 - Be direct with what you are requesting
Clarity can sometimes be hard to come by. We’ve all been in situations where someone asks “Can someone work on X?” when they are really thinking “Person Y, can you look into X?”. They hope that the right person will volunteer for the job instead of asking that person directly. The next time you are communicating a request, outline the task, the person for the job, and the timeline. Again, no guesswork!
#3 - If someone asks for help or requests feedback, be the first one to respond
When you write a long post or ask for help, it’s much nicer to receive a couple of responses, even negative ones, instead of radio silence. If you come across someone asking a question, put yourself in their shoes and respond ASAP! Even saying “I can’t help right now, but I’ll be free in an hour” is much better than not responding at all.
#4 - Be proactive
In group settings, responsibility sometimes falls to no one. Everybody agrees to start a Skype call at 5 pm, but it’s 5:11 pm and the call still hasn’t started. Each person thinks that someone else is going to start the call and invite all of the members. Instead, take the initiative to invite all of the members and start the call promptly at 5 pm.
#5 - Remember to have empathy
It’s important to recognize where others are coming from, as well as sometimes giving yourself a break. If you are frustrated with a team member, imagine that they are going through a tough day and that you can be the spark that changes their day around. Likewise, it can be easy to be hard on your own performance and not recognize what might be holding you back. Along with having empathy for others, be honest with yourself.
#6 - Take ownership, but don’t take it personally
When you are being criticized or praised, your response should be the same: ask questions. Accept that things either did or didn’t work out, try to learn from the experience, and then move on. If you are being criticized, you aren’t being criticized for who you are, but rather what you did. If you are being praised, you aren’t being praised for who you are, but rather what you did. You are responsible for the work you do, but you are not your work. It’s much easier said than done, but separate the work you do from the person you are. You’ll find that your anxiety will decrease and your ability to learn, your self-confidence, and your results will shoot up.
These principles are a general guide, but at the end of the day it all comes down to respect. Respect each other and respect each other’s time. It’s just the right thing to do.
Tiger Safarov and Matt Fischer
[Narrated by Matt Fischer]< Back to Blog