1. What “button” of yours has the situation pushed? What is the source of your defensive feeling?
2. Is it a good idea to remove yourself from the situation for a time to center and assess before you respond?
3. If another person is involved, what does your emotional intelligence tell you is the most effective way to respond to them?
4. Is the situation even worth responding to or is it more effective to walk away?
5. What is the source of your defensiveness? What are you protecting yourself from?
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There are many ways people communicate that go beyond basic verbal communication. To be in tune with others, it is crucial to “notice” these other means of communicating. What are they? People communicate in many ways – with facial gestures, body language, tone of voice, choice of words, eye contact or lack of it, posture, touch and allowing or not allowing personal space. How often do you pay attention to another person’s non-verbal communication?
Over the next week, take some time to sharpen your ability to notice both your and others’ non-verbal communication. Try to discern what is being said beyond surface verbal communications. Noticing helps you increase your understanding of yourself and the people you interact with, resulting in better decisions, more effective communication and better managing.
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Sometimes in a rush or the heat of a moment, we can forget that we have choice in how we communicate with others. A big lesson for me has been discerning the difference between response and reaction in my communications. Reaction is defined as an action performed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event. Response is a reply or an answer. The difference between the two may be subtle, but can make a huge difference.
The way I’ve come to see this is, when something provokes a reaction in me, it is best that I settle and center before I communicate. A reaction is not under my control when it is an unconsidered or emotional one. Reaction is provoked by an action or feeling. A response, in contrast, is of my own making.
Here’s an example: if someone is upset with me, a natural reaction may be to lash back defensively. However, this could escalate the conversation in ways I do not want, especially in a work situation. My reaction is caused by their heightened emotions, not what I want to do. In contrast, a response is considered and dictated by me. The next time an opportunity presents itself, try responding instead of reacting. I think you’ll see its merits.
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Do you find yourself looking down a lot – at your phone? There have been many changes in our business communication styles. How are you adjusting to them? Do they serve or hinder you as a manager?
You do have choice in how and when you communicate – exercise it. Communications styles do not have to be dictated to you. Choose the style of communication that allows you to be fully present in the moment and to communicate effectively. You may not be able to use your chosen style of communication, every time. However, you may be surprised how often you can, when you exercise your choice.
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There’s a lot involved in work place communication. When you have something significant to communicate, you do well to consider what you will say, how you will say it and what the impact of your communication may be. Expressing yourself in an intelligent and considered manner serves you well.
Gushing forth, without giving thought to your communications, may provide temporary satisfaction, but is bound to trip you up at some time. Holding back on communicating is warranted at times; however holding something in is not. By doing so, those around you are not aware of your thoughts and ideas and you could experience stress from not communicating.
Expressing yourself is important to your performance and well being at work. How and when do you express yourself?
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1. When you do not have the facts of a situation
2. When your emotions are running high
3. When you have nothing to say
4. When a situation is volatile and you haven’t thought through the risks of speaking up
5. When you are tired and there’s no request that you speak up
6. When the person you would speak to is highly emotional and you see a way to avoid or delay speaking with them until things calm down
7. When someone is making a fool of themselves
8. When you have nothing good to say
9. When what you’d like to say will needlessly cause harm
10. When the person won’t hear you, even if you do speak up
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Communication is a constant in your work as a manager. Are you aware of the style you use to communicate to your team and others? Do you even have time to be aware of your communication style? Perhaps not. However, it is a worthwhile endeavor, as communication is the lifeblood of organizations and deserves your attention.
There are many styles of communication: precise and to the point, well reasoned and thought out, emotionally intelligent or forceful, to name a few. There are also various methods of communication – speaking, writing, electronic, body language.
You want to find the style that is a fit and most effective for you. Start by giving thought to what outcomes you want from your communications. Are they to keep a project going, create clarity about goals or promote collaboration, for example? In a previous blog post I focused on how your communication is heard. Being aware of this will help in determining your communication style. Then, fit this all in with the culture of your organization, the realities of your work and the nature of your team and co workers. You may use varying styles in different situations. That’s fine. The key here is developing your self-awareness of how you communicate with others.
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1) Put yourself in the other person’s place and consider what it would be like to hear what you plan to say.
2) Identify your goals for the conversation, its purpose and what you want to achieve by having it.
3) Think about the person you will be talking with and craft an approach that fits their personality, without comprising what you want to communicate.
4) Identify where you are most vulnerable in the conversation (e.g. you have fear of having it; you do not have a strong justification for your position).
5) Anticipate the person’s possible reactions to what you have to say and what you will do about them.
6) Visualize yourself having the conversation with a positive outcome or practice having it.
7) Craft the conversation to assure that what you say and what you are asking are clear.
8) During the conversation, ask the person if what you are saying is clear to them and listen to their responses.
9) Develop an effective exit strategy, in case the conversation gets out of hand.
10) Release attachment to a specific outcome and keep yourself in the present moment.
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When I was in college, a professor said to me “You are mature to the extent to which you realize how your actions affect others.” That advice has stayed with me. How you communicate falls into this. Effective communication has to be heard the way you want it to be by the person you are communicating with. It is not just how you say it, but how they hear it.
How a person hears you is influenced by a myriad of factors – how they feel at that moment, their perspective on your subject, their personality and temperament and how what you are saying could impact them. So what do you do? Conduct a labyrinthian analysis of the emotions and perspective of the person you plan to communicate with? I don’t think so.
It really is about your ability to observe and understand. If you develop your emotional intelligence and keenly observe the reactions of others to what you communicate, you will develop the ability to communicate effectively with them.
We are not a uniform human race. Our diversity is our strength. The challenge lies in realizing this, getting out of our own box and relating effectively to the perspectives and experiences of those to whom we communicate.
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One of the best things you can offer to people you manage is being very clear in what you are asking of them. This involves not only clear communication, but also clear thinking. Not easy to do, when things are moving quickly around you and work volume is high. However, efficiency and effectiveness require it.
Your team needs to know what your expectations are and they need your guidance. Making an assumption that you do not need to be clear because your team knows what you are thinking, is dangerous. Doing so, may force your team to create their own assumptions on how to proceed, that may not align with yours. Paramount to clear communication is spending the time to think things out, finding effective means for your team to meet their goals and knowing what direction you are going in.
Getting clear takes time, but it is an investment worth making. How can you lead without it?
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