When it comes to organizational success, every interaction between people is for better or worse. The effects are cumulative. If they aren’t getting better they probably are getting worse.

Ridge’s training is built on the four following principles or “rules” to make sure interactions and important relationships are consistently and intentionally getting better so they yield better results.

Rule One: Communicate with purpose.

Most people think they know what they want to get out of an interaction, but they’re casual about it. You may think that all you need to do is tell people about a new policy, procedure, task, or deadline—but what do you want people to do as a result? Do you want them to change in some way? Do they need to be bought in? Do they have competing priorities that need to be addressed? Being intentional about your purpose up front will inform your communication strategy and reduce the toll needless friction takes on your time, results, and relationships.

Rule Two: Tune into tension.

Unmanaged tension kills productivity and the relationships crucial to your success. Don’t wait until arguments break out to manage it. People are always sending us signals about how they’re receiving what we’re saying–in their tone and body language as well as in their words. By keeping your radar up you can keep the dynamics between you and others positive which in turn yield better outcomes and more effective relationships, now and in the future.

Rule Three: Listen early and often.

Listening truly is the master skill of effective communication. It transforms misunderstanding, conveys empathy, and is an expression of respect and positive regard for the speaker–even in the midst of tension or conflict. Unfortunately listening isn’t as easy or common as most people think. We may think we’re listening but more often than not others don’t experience us that way. Few people in our work or home lives feel listened to enough. Do you? Great listening is an ongoing practice, not an occasional event. Cultivating this practice and closing the listening gap is key to getting the best from your working relationships with others.

Rule Four: Speak so people can learn.

When you speak, do you think about how others will receive what you say? Probably not: most people speak from their own frames of reference rather than speak to the recipient’s. If your words seem to fall on deaf ears, that may be why. To get better results, speak so people can learn. Tell employees how the feedback you’re giving will improve their success. Explain to customers the rationale for a specific policy. Be genuine, even if it is the company line. What you need to say may not always be up to you. How you say it is.

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