Communication is the single biggest problem area in any organization. Many times people do not think through their communications with others. As a result, communication breakdowns are common. But they can be overcome. It requires that you be intentional in design and consistent in implementation. And you can learn how to communicate better.
If you’ve ever played the game of telephone you know how information can’t get scrambled going from one person to the next. If you multiply that one-way communication into a one-to-many relationship—and then allow communication from receiving parties to other receiving parties—you have the makings of a complete communication breakdown.
There are five things you need to “get” to communicate better and improve your relationship with your team.
1. Get real
Today more than ever, people crave authenticity. They want to know that you are who you say you are. Therefore, it is imperative that you are real with others.
The fastest way to earn trust with others is to be real with them. By dropping your guard around others, they will feel like they can drop their guard around you. That will help you develop a framework upon which you can build your communication.
However, people tend to think that they will develop better relationships if they sugarcoat the situation. Actually, others would rather hear the hard truth than to be fed an untruth that they discover later wasn’t the real story. In fact, not telling the hard truth early on will ultimately damage your relationship with others.
Be willing to be open and real and truthful with others. Help them to see that you are who you are all the time, and that you will share the real story with them all the time. If you do that, they will want to trust you all the time. And that will help you communicate better.
2. Get clear
Clarity is one of the greatest gifts you can give others. When communicating with others, it is important to be clear in what you trying to say as well as in how you are trying to say it. You can help everyone understand your perspective by thinking through first what you want to communicate and then how you communicate it.
Your words have to mean what you think they mean. Use words that are clear to everyone in your communications, whether in writing or in conversation. Don’t leave the interpretation of your words up to others.
Do not hurry to communicate information. When sending emails, re-read what you’ve written to make sure it makes sense. If it is unclear, then start over again. It is always better to take the time up front to explain what you mean.
When you’re talking on the phone or in person, make sure you are being clear in what you’re saying. Do not rush through your words. Clearly enunciate everything you say so that it can be clearly understood.
Be transparent in your communications. Don’t have any hidden meanings in what you’re trying to say. Remember, to be unclear is to be unkind. By communicating clearly, you will communicate better.
3. Get listening
I have realized in my life that I am not listening when I am talking. With two ears and one mouth, I should use them in proportion.
Be humble enough to listen to others. Take time to listen to somebody else even if you don’t think you can learn anything from them. In fact, listen to them especially if you don’t think you can learn anything from them. You may be surprised by what you will learn.
Even when you have listened to the other party, don’t assume that you have heard them correctly. Take the time to share what you think you heard to make sure that you have understood them. Then let them confirm what is accurate and correct what is not.
By showing that you genuinely want to understand others, your actions will say so much more than any persuasive words you could say. Make the effort to learn what the other party genuinely thinks and feels. You will communicate better if you are willing to listen.
4. Get open
The free flow of information is essential to building a Culture of Transparency necessary for a healthy work environment.
When information is withheld from a team, they will fill in the gaps on their own. Based on the limited information available, the team will make assumptions and perceive them as truth. That is a dangerous situation for a team to operate within—because they are often wrong, but never in doubt. Even though you may have less information available to share, this is a time that you will want to share what little information you have—and do it more often.
The more real you are about how things are going, the more they will think you are sharing all the information available to share. Look at information like water: It stagnates when it stays in one place. Help the information flow, and do not let it stagnate with you or with others.
5. Get together
When we don’t have face-to-face contact with others on our team, something gets lost in translation in our interpersonal relations.
Stephen M. R. Covey says in The Speed of Trust that when we talk with others about attitudes and feelings, only 7 percent of our communications are composed of the words we use. An additional 38 percent of our communications is attributable to how we say it. But a whopping 55 percent of our interpersonal communications is made up of the body language that we use. That face-to-face contact is essential to our understanding each other.
When we don’t have in-person communication, we tend to assume that we know what the other is thinking. We can assume the worst when we don’t have face-to-face conversations. If we aren’t face to face, then we don’t see eye to eye.
When people are not spending time with each other, they can assume the worst of each other. Misunderstandings and misinterpretations could be avoided if people would see each other and be able to talk face to face. Many problems could be solved if people actually talked to each other face to face in a regular forum. By bringing people together on a regular basis, you can communicate better and accentuate the importance of the team.
People crave human interaction, and they are relational beings. You can communicate better if you are open, real, and clear with others, if you take time to get together with others, and if you listen to others.
Did you know that I
* Perform organizational culture assessments,
* Coach leaders how best to lead their teams, and
* Train teams how to best perform like a team?
To find out more, check out my new book, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew.
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