Every boater understands the importance of slowing down and obeying the No Wake Zone, and leaders should too. In this blog series on Boating Wisdom for Leaders, we’ve explored our “emotional wake” and its potential to capsize relationships.

Create a No Wake Zone by considering the following ways to make your conversations SAFE:

Create a No Wake ZoneS – Slow Down

Whether on the phone, online, or face to face, take a moment to slow down and observe what the other person is doing as you approach them for conversation. Like a boat within 100’ of the shore, paying attention to your approach is demonstrating respect. It’s a shift in focus, from what you need to what they are currently engaged in.

A –Acknowledge

Acknowledge what has their attention as you approach. If it’s a face to face meeting, this is much easier to do; simply comment on what they were doing before you got their attention. Ask if this is a good time to check in or to ask a question.

In an email, this might be an opening comment about your shared goals and objectives, to set the context for what comes next in your text. For example, “We share a common goal to improve ourstaffing levels in Q4. I’m sending this note to request…”  This opening statement acknowledges their importance to an overall goal or objective.

F – Facilitate

Facilitate, don’t dictate, the conversation or request you have in mind. Few people like to be told what to do. By asking questions first and trying honestly to see things from their point of view, we create an unmistakable connection.

My grandmother taught me the power of facilitation at an early age. Instead of telling me to set the table, she would approach me and say, “Molly, I can see that you are enjoying that (fill in the blank) activity, and it is nearly time for dinner. When might you be able to set the table for me?”

E – Exchange

Know the difference between a conversation and a “versation.” Conversation comes from the Latin word conversare – which means to associate with. Real and meaningful conversation occurs in the exchange of ideas, opinions, solutions, and viewpoints with others.

According to Abraham Maslow, famous for his hierarchy of human needs, “Growth forward is made possible by the feeling of being safe, of operating into the unknown from a safe home port, of daring because retreat is possible.”

Slow down and create your own No Wake Zone.