Helping You Appreciate the Process of Communication
Imagine, if what you wanted to say came out the exact way you needed, to save face. Imagine, if your thoughts matched the words that were coming out of your mouth (or maybe not). Imagine, if there was no need to backtrack to make sure your message was received and understood. A little wishful thinking never hurt anyone, but miscommunication has. George Bernard Shaw states, “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”Understand, effective communication requires at least two people; someone who delivers the message and someone who receives it. However, our preferred method of communication, combined with our emotions and intent has a lot to do with how we show up in a conversation or lack thereof. Enhancing the way, you exchange ideas, relay directives, provide input, and stress concerns can reduce the chances of errors in the workplace and botched relationships.
If you haven't realized, people are at the center of every success, failure, and misunderstanding; therefore, fundamental to our very existence. The correlation between our words, our body language, our facial expressions and our interpretation of how the three work together proves to be most important. In the business world, effective communication can enrich relationships with both the customer/client and employee. How we engage can ultimately serve as a conduit to strengthen teams and increase productivity in the workplace if done correctly. Unfortunately, according to a Harvard Business Review article 69% of managers, are uncomfortable with communicating with their employees, and 37% of the managers are apprehensive about giving direct feedback if they anticipate a negative/combative response. Feedback as simple as giving praise, providing constructive criticism, informing staff of organizational change, and giving directives has the potential to cause high levels of anxiety for most managers. And, the level of stress when a reprimand is in order can be almost terrifying for some.
The high levels of discomfort frontline leaders experience is disconcerting because the core of a manager’s responsibility is to communicate. The need to improve communication skills among frontline leaders is needed now more than ever because the average financial loss as a result of inadequate communication per company in the U.S. is $62.4 million per year. Therefore, if you are interested in enhancing your communication skills, I challenge you to dig deep. Give consideration to the following four points to help you understand the basics of communication and tips to improve.
1. Become familiar with the Standard Points of Communication.
According to Myers-Briggs, everyone goes through a standard process to communicate. That is, there is a moment when we direct and receive energy, a moment we absorb the information, make decisions, and reveal our thoughts to the outside world. However, how we steer and travel through each point of communication has a great deal to do with our natural personality. Some prefer to, do, think and then do again, while others need to, think, then do, and then think again. Taking time to understand how others use their minds is the first step in learning how to best communicate with them. For example, introverts process information best by quietly reflecting while extroverts process best by actively engaging and talking. The more aware you are of the process of communication among different groups the more prepared you will be. This, in turn, will help reduce the stress associated with communicating in the workplace.
2. Learn the Motivations of Different Communication Styles.
Communication breakdown is frequent in the workplace partly due to misunderstanding one’s intent and misinterpreting one’s message. Often, our motivation is the driver for how we communicate. Facts motivate some people, possibilities motivate others, and believe it or not pitfalls encourage people too. Since what excites you during an exchange does not always excite another; it is essential to recognize the value in different methods of communication and motivating factors. Have you ever noticed when something energizes you during a conversation the other party is unresponsive? Or, maybe you get frustrated while gathering details of a particular problem because the other person is already giving probable solutions without even knowing the story? For example, if someone bombards you with questions that poke holes in your ideas or plans, it’s usually not personal. They just might be a person who is motivated by facts and has a deep desire to achieve perfection. Embrace what they do best – poke holes. Learn how to work around their motivating factor by using them as a resource to help fine-tune ideas. Believe me, I know this is easier said than done, but it is a strategy worth trying.
3. Recognize the Value in Opposing Communication Styles.
Healthy differences exist in both our professional and personal lives, but at times, we become so consumed by the differences that we fail to see and acknowledge what our opposition brings to the table. Look for value in different perspectives regardless of how the message is delivered. For instance, a person perceived as frank and too direct often has a knack for saying what is needed and what others want to say but don’t. A person who is considered too soft might have a deeper understanding and concern for the impact decisions have on the people. Take a minute, try to learn from different styles of communication to expand your skills. Because, people who prefer to get to the point are valuable when time is of the essence, people who have a knack for exaggeration are great at crafting messages that demand attention. And, people who are more imaginative with their communication style can help us see possibilities even when we aren’t looking or don’t want to.
4. Be Mindfulness of How You Show Up in A Conversation.
Learning your true self can help you go far professionally. So, who are you? Are you more action-oriented or reflective-oriented? Are you great at gathering concrete facts to assist with making decisions, or are you skilled at making decisions with just a snapshot of information? Are you someone driven to find innovative solutions for people’s random slights and successfully connect them to company values? Do you solve problems by detaching yourself from the situation or by connecting yourself? Do you tend to focus on the people, the process or the business, or are you skilled at balancing all? While the answers to these questions are a blueprint for your natural skillset it does not disclose your natural communication style. Until you become mindful of how you show up in a conversation, you may continue to be provoked, frustrated, overwhelmed and unfortunately an ineffective communicator. Now is the time to get to know YOU!
Finally, effective communication is a skill that many of us think we have but don't and therefore a shared challenge for executives, mid-level managers, and subordinates across business sectors. The first step to improve your style of communication is to become aware of not only your preferred way to exchange information but also potential blind spots. If you are interested in developing a deeper understanding of your communication style, your coping strategies in the workplace, and how you exist in a team environment through Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessments (MBTI), please contact Kesi Howard at Kesi@structuredstrategies.global or log onto www.Kesihoward.com. MBTI assessments have proven to provide profound insight for professional growth. Call today, 412-557-2966.
Buhler, P. M., & Worden, J. D. (2013). The cost of poor communication. Retrieved from Shrm.org: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/communication/pages/the-cost-of-poor-communications.aspx
Myers, I. B. (2015). Introduction to myers-briggs type; 7th edition. United States of America: CPP.