Communication…It Doesn’t Come Easy!

As we all know, the way people interact with each other in today’s world is drastically different than it was twenty years ago…Who are we kidding? It’s even different than it was five years ago. Problems can quickly arise if people don’t know how to handle or manage conflict. Even something as small as a short email can be easily misconstrued. The result: a cascade of collusion affecting culture, morale, and even productivity. And getting your team back on track can take a large amount of time as you try to act as referee or translator.

But…we can’t always blame the employee. We live in a world where people don’t have to interact with others to shop, bank, order food, attend college courses, or even “socialize.” We use our computers and smart phones without having to say a single word to anyone. How, then, can you overcome learned habits and help improve your team’s ability to communicate effectively with each other?

  1. Demonstrate positive interactions. Give the person your full attention – show you are not distracted. Be complete in your emails, and think about how they might be perceived by others. When talking with someone in person, face the person and take time to hear what they are saying. Show your team what good communication looks like.
  2. Create a culture of effective communication. Schedule time for people to interact face-to-face instead of through other media. It could be something as simple as meeting for lunch or having a ten-minute stand-up meeting at the beginning of every shift.
  3. Establish some guidelines. You could require your team to turn off their ringers during meetings and emphasize that texting is a distraction. If there is conflict, you could ask that it be handled face-to-face, as opposed to sending a collusive email. Foster the idea of open communication – where people can talk about it if there is a perceived misunderstanding.
  4. Apply consequences. If you see or hear an example of positive communication or if someone demonstrates a change in behavior, let them know you noticed it. What gets rewarded gets repeated. Similarly, if you see an example which is negative, privately and professionally address it. Let the person know which behaviors are acceptable and which are unacceptable. And set an expectation for the future.

Communication isn’t easy. Many people struggle with communication in their personal relationships, and communicating at work is not any easier. It’s something that requires constant work. Demonstrate the behaviors that you wish to see, and you might be surprised at the result.

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All about communication can be found here!