Communication for better results
Communication is a transfer of ideas, opinions, attitudes, information from the source to the beneficiary. It’s done on different levels and by different ways – by looking, talking, listening, reading, but also with simply being silent. Managers think that they know everything about communication, but the truth is that they know very little and also, very often, they are not prepared to learn.
Communication is both powerful and powerless; it depends who is using it. Although, we don’t use communication to achieve some result, it’s in a way efficient. People think that we communicate only with words, but with non-verbal communication we transfer more than 93% of the message, so other side can figure it in a different way. Remember, message is not the one we told (the picture in our head), but the one our collocutor understood (the picture in her/his head).
Managers think that silence is not a way of communicating, but silence also transmits its own message and can tell – some say - a thousand words. How the others will understand our message and how many things will we achieve, depends on the way we express our opinions and attitudes. Individuals that communicate better have more success in resolving conflicts, negotiating, have satisfactory relations with others, they have more confidence, and consequently they are generally more successful and satisfied.
It is up to managers to take responsibility for the messages they send and for possible error that can occur and make the message unclear. Developing their communication skills can help them to take a realistic look at the causes of errors in communication (some may always want to be right, dominate or, on the other hand, avoid conflicts, so they backdown, and that bothers them).
1.1 Two way street
Communication is a two-way street. Say what you think in transparent way – express your needs, attitudes and don’t expect the others to read your thoughts. Sometimes tolerate the silence since silence is also a way of communicating. Trying to be empathic during communication – listening to coworkers’ opinions and attitudes even if they are different, showing emotions and trying to understand (accepting difference between people as an opportunity to learn more) but don’t let emotional occupation influences messages they send is the best way to communicate the message across and to get best possible feedback.
It takes effort to get along with everybody at work. Social skills we developed while growing up can help us as adults in the workplace, but not always workplace situations can be explained and conducted as childhood experiences.
Series of conflicts that occur commonly on the job can be solved with following behaviour:
- Truth builds trust. Always tell the truth and keep your promises.
- Good communication is base for good cooperation. You will get powerful advantage if you know how to communicate to find creative, win-win solutions by listening and sharing.
- Competence wins respect. Put in the effort and opportunities will follow.
- Don't take criticism personally. Accept criticism – and give it – personally.
- Honor different work methods. Different people have different ways to get the job done.
- Support your coworkers. Provide help when needed and thank those that help you.
Coworkers can settle personal clashes amongst themselves before their differences get a chance to escalate. Small bits of humor make your comments easy to understand and the message is universal – play fair and others will (mostly) respond in kind. An atmosphere of tension can add stress to any job, over and above the actual work itself.
Communication skills are critical in every social and business environment. We also know that communication often breaks down. When there's breakdown we ususally think the solution is to speak more clearly. But often, the solution is better listening.
What causes breakdowns in listening? Each of us has a habitual way of listening – a way of fitting what we hear into our preconceived notions. We are captives of our way of listening, often unaware that we hear is not what others are saying.
Listening should not be taken for granted, so important is that:
- clear speaking does not guarantee clear listening,
- listening is always interpretative,
- culture and personal history shape listening
- perceptions about relative power can limit the exchange of ideas,
- changes in mood changes in listening, and
- effective communication requires listening beyond the words.
Team work is necessary to individuals so they could reach their goals that can not be reached only by themselves. Every group needs to have somebody to control it so managerial part of the team work is consisted of assembling the team, leading the members of team and continuously communicating. Different behaviors of team members gives different levels of cooperation, therefore different final results. Results are depending on external environment, but most often they depend on internal level of cooperation.
Managers are responsible both for company’s results and for people they manage. As a manager, the productivity of your workforce is a primary responsibility but you should be aware that a major source of productivity is employee satisfaction. “People-first” approach can increase loyalty, retention and productivity so your other goal – productivity – can be also achieved. Highly motivated people, that trust you, achieve exceptional results. The most important question you should ask yourself is: “How can I help my people to trust me and my opinions and judgements?”
The best managers clear the obstacles and provide support needed to gt the job done. They trust their people and their people are ready to tell them the truth about business situation, their ideas or their innovations. If you define “key drivers” that can be isolated and measured you will always get more of what you recognize. See what’s right with people rather than what’s wrong. If you give your people reason(s) to trust you than they will be ready to tell you the truth about business they do.
Beside knowledge and skills you gained during time (and you show in daily business situations) effective performance adds value to your competences and can motivate your coworkers to do even better. Unfortunatelly, performance apprisals are often regarded as mere formalities. Reviews are sometimes skipped or done late. Clear guidance falls by the wayside and halfhearted wotk goes unchallenged.
To upgrade your competences you need to define critical elements to cover your appraisal process and to give you advantage of sticking to daily business’ as weel as to projects’ schedule. Fairness and consistency are also important to define your competences. How to deal with under-performers and how you motivate top produces is also a signal how strong your competences are and what is the value of your coworkers feedback.
Your competences can motivate your coworkers to achieve better results. There is a direct correlation between recognition on the one hand and productivity and retention on the other. Therefore, one of the important parts of your comptences as manager is how you perform your responsibility in providing consistent recognition.
Proise must be honest and authentic, recognition should be specific and timely and rewards are best when tailored to the individual. Managers must look for positive behaviour and praise often.
We often hear the term «constructive criticism». Unfortunately, much criticism ends up being destructive. Why people usualy do not know how to give and take criticism in ways that benefit the individuals involved as well as their organisation(s)?
The art of giving criticism follows a simple guideline: attack the problem, not the person. Selftest on «why I am giving this criticism» is crucial. If you are angry and your purpose is to punich or get even, then stop. Since timing for criticism is very important, ti is good to catch problems before they grow. Nevertheless, if the individual is under pressure waiting for critisim can be better solution.
Taking criticism can be tough. Being on the receiving end of criticism can be rough experience. Taking criticism professionally, without defensiveness and without feeling humiliated is the fastes way to find solution that can satisfied both sides. All criticism, even malicious or unjustified criticism, contains information – sometimes the one that can make you smarter.
We all need criticism. it is a part of daily learning. What we don't need is the anger, defensiveness, frustration an conflict that are so often associated with criticism. If you can establish a spirit of cooperation and growth, based on sharing criticism in afair way, you will be able to create a more effective organization.
We are all different. We have different work methods, different communication styles and different personal values. Communication is sometimes smooth, sometimes is not-so-smooth, so interactions within a diverse set of coworkers is not final, «works-in-all-situations» model. Cross-cultural communication is a skill. No one is perfect, but with practice and respect to our coworkers all of us can become better at it.
To establish strong connections with coworkers and customers you have to ask yourself (at least) four questions:
- Are my assumptions creating barriers?
- Do I acknowledge and respect differences?
- Am I communicating openly and clearly?
- Is it possible that my words or actions are being misinterpretated?
Ask open-ended questions and improve communication with your coworkers, respect their contribution to business results and generate compromises that are acceptable to everyone. Most important, do not jump to conclusions about another person’s motives or attitudes.
Creating positive atmosphere in your workplace helps your organization to thrive. Interpersonal skills are at a premium since first civilizations as well as these days. Working well with others is critical to your own success. Good teams build involvement, improve communication and cooperation, and generate innovative business solutions. They streamline decision making and expand competencies. But, if not handled well, they have a tendency instead to go astray, waste time and generate frustration.
To be able to guide your team well or to support members of the team you are member of you will need specific guidelines for effective team communication. It helps you set clearly defined goals and focus on solutions that keep your team on track.
What you need to know and apply? You need to identify appropriate team projects, select the right team participants, nurture them through development stages and help build team identity. Support your coworkers and they will (most probably) support you.
Adopt your communication to each situation, which means you must not communicate by habit or by learned text, because not all the situations are the same and niether is the communication. In specific circumstances (and each situation is different) you will have to have prepared answers in your head and the answers to all the possible questions or structure things you want to say.
Communication is a part of characteristics of each individual or groups of people, so in any group relations it’s very important to communicate successfully for better results.
 Empathy – state in which you show understanding for the feelings of the other side (emotions, urges), but you are not turning on your emotions (instead of sympathy).