You can probably relate to that moment of utter frustration, as you’ve no doubt experienced this. Communication is a part of building and navigating healthy, robust relationships and it’s a life skill you must hone if you want to have harmonious, engaging and productive interactions. This is especially true of teams who, for the most part, come together for a short time to accomplish a specific set of objectives.
Since every significant organizational accomplishment requires collaboration and teamwork, the art of communicating clearly can’t be over-emphasized. Whenever we speak with managers about teams that have gone awry, one phrase comes up again and again, “there just seemed to be a breakdown in communications”.
We’ve identified seven ways to improve daily team communication with the understanding that everything happens in the context of relationships. Relationships are gold, and when nurtured may provide rich ideas and solutions that help everyone soar. When neglected things can go south quickly. Here are the seven tips.
- Be known for your listening skills. When you listen deeply not only to what is being said, but to the emotional tone under the words, you discern differently. Stephen Covey in his Seven Habits book suggested, “seek first to understand.” His point was that if everyone is talking to get their own ideas across, no one is listening.
- Reconnect often. If you’re like most people, you are going so fast and juggling so much, you may need to frequently reconnect with yourself, and take time to breathe and think. You might need to reconnect with the mission of your objective as a team. Most importantly, you may want to reconnect with others. Take time to know how others are doing. Let colleagues know what’s happening on the professional and the personal front for you, maybe even sharing what’s coloring your mood and point of view. It may be as simple as saying “my car’s in the shop, so I’m a little distracted by that.” When you know these kinds of things are happening with others, you feel more connected to yourself and others.
- Recalibrate regularly. Last week, you may have been focused on a certain outcome as your primary objective. Then—BAM— you lost your biggest client. How do you move forward? How have priorities shifted in light of this information? Recalibration is what pilots do constantly to keep them on track to arrive at the agreed-upon destination. Some estimate a plane being off course as much as 97% of the time, but because they course correct, they complete the journey on course, and on time.
- Reframe. This is a skill and an art that improves with practice. Remember that lost client? To keep conversation and energy moving in a positive direction, you reframe that news in terms of hidden opportunity by asking questions like:
- What can we now do that wasn’t possible with the client taking the bandwidth they required?
- How can we turn this into an advantage?
- What possibilities are here now that weren’t visible before?
- Reflect. This communication staple is almost a cliché, but that’s because it works. If you’re like most people, you think the way you see is as obvious to everyone else as it is to you. But, the truth is that you see through the lens of your own strengths and unique worldview. When someone shares a complex thought or idea, get in the habit of rephrasing it in your own words, and asking them if you understood correctly.
- Get curious. Ask questions to which you don’t know the answer. This has the potential to expand understanding for the entire team. Learn to ask open-ended questions rather than those that might be answered with a yes or no. For example, “Who will be your interview subjects for research on this?” You will find this provides more possibilities than, “Are you talking with XYZ company as part of your research?”
- Notice the story you’re telling. Become adept at hearing yourself and others become locked into a story that diminishes possibilities. When you find yourself saying that you don’t know if you can make the presentation as well as Chris could, ask yourself some piercing questions. What happens if I keep telling that story? What would need to be different for me to be able to tell a more empowering story? What outcome might be possible if I change the story?
When employed mindfully, these seven ideas will improve the smooth operation between team members, stakeholders and others. Once they become second nature, you won’t even have to think about them, and the results you get in terms of healthy relationships and superior performance will be well worth the investment.
To learn more, you may be interested in downloading our free e-book, Dealing With People Who Make You Crazy found at: http://bit.ly/2yzrL8y.
This blog comes from the People Acuity Co-Thought Leader Community and is written by Teri Johnson and Steve Jeffs.
Teri Johnson is a Faculty Coach and Mentor, SSCC and Certified People Acuity Specialist™ at People Acuity, a Strengths Strategy Company. She is also the founder and CEO of Personal Best Partners, LLC and is part of the People Acuity Co-thought Leader Community.
Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of the C2B Different Assessment scales at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.