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?
photo: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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.
photo: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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.
photo: Salvatore Vuono, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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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To move forward, open communication is a necessity. In reality, however, open communication is rare. By open communication, I mean conditions where each person has the opportunity to speak their truth in a calm, considered way, without retribution.
Many things inhibit open communication – hidden agendas, strong emotions or lack of emotional intelligence, fear, organizational dysfunction or a desire to control, for example. You could decide that you will communicate openly, but there are risks. Until a safe space for open communication exists, you can employ some elements of open communication by allowing others to speak to you in an open manner, developing your own emotional intelligence and not reacting to poor communicators, unless one of your boundaries are crossed. You also can become more knowledgeable on open communication and, when you can, foster its development.
Without open communication, progress is slowed. With open communication, progress gets on a fast track along with innovation, harmony and collaboration.
“Entitled”, “Inexperienced”, “Innovative”, “Misunderstood”, “Social Activists”. These descriptions of the millennial generation (roughly 18-30 year olds) were given by the audience at a New York University alumni event I attended this week. The event featured David Burstein, author of Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World.
There is a promise for all of us who dialogue and take time to understand this generation, that is now moving out in the world. Blending their perspectives with those of other generations can advance us as a society and global community. They bring to the table a strong entrepreneurial drive, a sense of their own agency, a new brand of social activism rooted in pragmatic idealism, a high level of technological competency, a natural inclination towards collaboration and a healthy skepticism (and sometimes rejection) of our traditional institutions.
The millennial generation embodies the major shifts our societies are now encountering. How powerful it will be if all generations can come together to create a better world.
As a manager, communicating is a mainstay of your work. Frequently, communications can go awry. But what do you do when communications totally break down?
I was coaching a client who worked in a political campaign. Pressure was high and internal competition was fierce. The campaign environment did not have space for discord or drama. He was working with another person, his peer, who insisted on berating him and criticizing what he did in e mails and copying them widely to other members of the campaign. It was a game and very irritating. At one point, he thought these communications could do him significant harm.
It was time to deal with it. First, he set some boundaries, calling the person on their inaccuracies and tactics. It didn’t work. So, he went to his manager and instead of complaining, he calmly told his manager that he was not going to work this way and set his boundaries. His manager responded, told the other person to lay off on the e mails and it was done. Sometimes things can be worked out and sometimes they can’t. In this case, the action taken by the manager allowed my client to get back to work and get the job done.
This year I did a presentation for an organization that was undergoing major change in both their culture and their operations. My focus in the presentation was on three steps to successfully navigating change: embracing change, teamwork and communications and staff empowerment. As part of the presentation I included the video below, titled Navigating Change, which I would like to share with you (the organization works with children, thus some of the smaller figures). As a manager, what are your best practices for successfully navigating change?