We’ve been communicating all of our lives, so you’d think this would be easy, but it’s not. Having mutually respectful, kind and synergistic conversations that lead to high productivity in a healthy, well-balanced work environment is essential, but where do we learn those skills?
Most of us have learned our communication skills exclusively from our family life. If you consider what goes on there it’s no wonder it can be so challenging to communicate effectively at work. People bring their best to work without a doubt, but because emotions and conditioning usually take over from intellect, problems will occur and communication will break down.
Here’re three tips to be on the road to clear, concise communications.
- Active Listening. Active listening requires that first and foremost that we stay quiet while others speak – ok a little humour there, nonetheless it needed to be said. Mind reading plays no part whatsoever in Active Listening. Anticipating the speakers next words and helping them finish their sentence…also is not listening. To be actually Actively Listening you must meet these five criteria:
- Listen to content – what are their words saying? Are you able to understand them? If not get curious and ask when appropriate.
- Listen to their intent – what do they mean to say? Do they want you to take them literally? If unsure ask when appropriate.
- Be mindful of your body language while listening. People can make all kinds of facial expressions, sighs etc. Don’t let your non-verbal language give away what’s going on in your mind.
- Be aware of their body language. Are their words and body language congruent?
- Listen without judgement. Allow yourself to simply to be open to their perspective, they may provide you with the piece of the puzzle you’ve been looking for.
- Practice Assertive Communication. This one is absolutely non-negotiable, it is essential. The challenge with it is, most of us really don’t know what assertive communication is, never mind how to practice it. Often times assertive communication is believed to be aggressive communication. This is not the case. Assertive communication has a brief criterion which includes, being respectful to yourself and to others, being direct, and is choice-centred. When we are assertive we speak in a way that is respectful to others, we are not feeling challenged or defending ourselves. We are open to other perspectives, although we may not adapt them for ourselves. And we enter into an interaction with the knowledge that everyone has a perspective and the right to maintain it.
- Never Rush. I realize that making the right enough amount of time to talk to someone can be tricky. Forcing ourselves and others to cram in what they have to say, pushing ourselves and others while you’re walking by them because you’ve got a deadline to meet is a recipe for miscommunication, which means mistakes, which means problems. Take a few moments to stop and listen, book fifteen minutes to review points a mutually convenient time and be very selective when if ever you allow yourself to be interrupted. Being interrupted is not always ok and if it isn’t assertively done, tell the person that you aren’t available but you can catch up with them later – of course, suggest a time. Sometimes you only need ten minutes. They get what they want, you get what you want…win/win.