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How do communication and personal accountability relate to one another?

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Your accountability language can help you be an effective communicator. It will help you to clearly communicate your expectations.

In bad times
When you are faced with challenges, it is easy to fall into the trap of blame and excuses. In an accountability culture, there is no blame or punishment. These create negative energy and cause you to lose focus on the goal. When you are in a difficult situation and are tempted to break into a "bad story," remember that accountability is about clear expectations and making and keeping commitments. When commitments are not met, you need to understand what happened. What went well? The answer to this question is meant to create positive energy to generate more new ideas.

Your language and behavior
Being accountable does not mean you can always do what is being requested. You may not be able to say "yes" to a request. The important part of accountability is that you commit to something. It is your job to make a commitment that you understand and can keep. If you cannot, you need to adjust the commitment to what you can achieve.  How you speak will let others know that you understand what is expected.

Non-verbal communication

Watch your non-verbal communication, too. Sometimes what you don't say reveals much more about your accountability. Take, for instance, a meeting you are in where everyone seems to be committing to doing something: heads are nodding, people are smiling, and everyone seems to be engaged. In reality, the people walking out of the room are saying to themselves, "I have no idea what they were talking about. I just said 'yes' so that we could get out of there." Pay attention to whether you are behaving in the same way.

- Eileen Dohmann, RN, BSN, MBA, NEA-BC

(July 2012)