Etsy's Charter of Mindful Communication

It’s tough to navigate a chorus of personalities without a common, shared foundation upon which to base communications. This charter was conceived and rolled-out by Etsy’s Culture & Engagement team, embodying the best of its culture and mindfulness in order to achieve optimal benefit. It’s a brilliant articulation of how to ensure a diverse group of people can communicate and work effectively together by following a few basic principles.

Etsy’s Charter of Mindful Communication

We strive to embody the behaviors outlined below in all our interactions (with fellow employees, Etsy sellers, vendors, partners, industry peers and even strangers in the elevator) to ensure a foundation of mutual respect, accountability, open-mindedness and productivity.

When I engage with anyone, in any medium, I commit to keeping it REAL:

  • Reflect on the dynamics in the room
  • Elevate the conversation
  • Assume best intentions
  • Listen to learn

To learn more about what this means, let’s break it down…

Reflect on the dynamics in the room

  • Be mindful of your audience. Consider who is in the room, how they might receive the information, what’s at stake for them.
    • Be aware of your medium (i.e. tone of voice, choice of wording, body language) and seek out ways to be inclusive so that it acknowledges everyone in the audience, not just the majority.
  • Consider power dynamics. They are pervasive and exist even if—and where—we wish they didn’t
    • Ask yourself: Is this person in a position to take the action I’m suggesting? Are we coming from different places, and if so, how might I acknowledge the discrepancy?

Elevate the conversation

  • Be constructive and productive.
    • Aim to make something better to get shared results, rather than tear it down.
  • Meet transparency with responsibility.
    • There’s a fine line between being anonymous and trolling–before you click “send,” imagine you are face to face with the person on the other end of the conversation. Honesty is not constructive if it’s cruel.

Assume best intentions

  • Expect that everyone comes to work to do the best job they can, and make the best decisions possible given their capabilities and the information available to them.
    • We’re all playing for the same team and want to help Etsy win.
  • Practice empathy.
    • Ask yourself: What else is going on for this person?

Listen to learn

  • Stay genuinely curious.
    • Your goal is to build an understanding about someone’s behavior, not make judgements or accusations. Recognize that others have expertise and context that you may not.
  • Prepare to be surprised.
    • Operate under the assumption that you don’t know the whole story. Be open to multiple perspectives and underlying factors that could make something less straightforward than it may at first appear. Be willing to have your mind changed.
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