Improving communication is ranked in the top two or three issues in results of workplace effectiveness surveys time after time.
Consequently there is a lot of talk about communication, and sadly that is all it is, talk!
What communication is:
Communication has occurred when two or more people have reached a shared view regarding the way to move forward together.
What communication is not:
Communication is never one way. It is not information sharing. Communication usually occurs after information sharing.
Improving our communication
For many years I facilitated for clients the great program of one of my mentors Peter Marshman, Communication Magic. Since Peter’s retirement I have continued, with his permission of course, to use parts of the program in my work, in particular using stars and black holes symbolism to help people become better communicators.
Typically, stars are messages that promote high self esteem of receivers and therefore the likelihood of personal best performance.
- enthusiastic greetings
- recognition of effort and achievements
- being included
- putting ourselves out for others
- asking someone else for advice, showing genuine interest
Typically, black holes are messages that mean a likely drop in self esteem and therefore a corresponding drop in personal performance.
- not saying hello or greeting people as though they barely exist
- not saying thank you or not recognising other people’s efforts
- claiming the credit for someone else’s work
- ignoring or excluding people
- 'putting people down'
- criticism as opposed to constructive critique
- thinking our way is the only way and demonstrating this in our behaviour
- having a closed mind
Try being a star sender and eliminate black holes and I guarantee you, almost overnight, you will become a better communicator.
Further ways to improve our communication
Understand email is not communication until a shared view is reached. As a general rule email (great tool that it is) is a poor form of communication because of the time it can take to reach a shared view, and because of the ease in which misunderstandings can occur.
Before sending any emails we must ask the following questions:
- Does sending this email help in achieving our business purpose?
- Is sending this email the best way to share information?
- Is the content of the email clear and uplifting for people?
Sending messages effectively
Before sending any verbal (face to face, voice mail) or written message we must:
- Check our intent to ensure we have a shared outcome in mind
- Ask, is our message honourable and in the best interests of achieving our business purpose?
- Will my message likely build the receiver/s self esteem and/or help them perform at their best?
After sending verbal or written messages we should check in with the receiver/s to ensure the effectiveness of our message.
Receiving messages effectively
We must ensure our intent is to understand the sender’s perspective not to judge it or be prejudiced against it. The purpose of listening is simply to fully understand the senders view. We must check the effectiveness of our listening by using techniques such as reflective or active listening to ensure we are receiving the message intended by the sender.