Communication is the lifeblood of relationships, personal and business. The health of an organization can be measured in how it communicates not only internally but externally.
Bad communication habits can be sneaky and costly. It is easy to fall into bad habits without realizing how detrimental they can be. For example, my client told me the social media expert hired to manage the online presence for the firm quit. She refused to do any more work because of the way a member of the firm treated her. Snarky, disrespectful, curt communication did not sit well with this valuable resource.
1) Respond with “Yes, but….” This is a reactive reply that implies the listener already has the best solution to the issue. It’s an argumentative stance which does not respect the point of view of the other. This is a good way to shut down any constructive dialogue.
2) “You Talk Too Much” by Joe Jones, a popular 1960 song describes it best. How can you get another perspective when you are doing all the talking all the time? Not possible. Besides that, for introverts on your team it’s exhausting to be bombarded by a steady stream of chatter.
3) Allow distractions, electronic and otherwise. In meetings, when people are distracted by phone calls, emails and text messages, it says “What you are saying is not important to me.” No one likes to be disrespected.
4) Hide behind technology. Cryptic text messages, for example, can be easily misinterpreted. An important element of communication is body language and tone. Technology cannot take place of a phone call or face to face meeting.
5) Keep crucial information out of reach. Relevant metrics informs employees how the organization is performing and the part they play in its success. How do they know if they don’t have access to it?
Which of these bad habits is the biggest issue for you? To get started select the one that has the biggest impact on your company. If you are not sure, ask your team to give their perspective.
1) Listen carefully to what someone is saying. Ask open ended questions to understand more deeply the situation. Find out what the other person thinks is a good approach, “What do you think is a good first step?”
2) Talk less to listen more. It may surprise you what others know and think.
3) Silence, cut off and put out of sight all electronic devices in meetings. Use this in 1-on-1 as well as team meetings. Go dark at least for one 24 hour period each week. You will survive.
4) Use the telephone and meet face to face as appropriate. I know it’s a quaint idea in the gilded age of technology.
5) Share the up to date metrics of your organization. People who are engaged make better, happier employees. Tell them what they are doing makes a difference.
These five communication habits can have a significant impact on not only the morale but the bottom line in your company. Why not trade the five worst habits for the five best habits to improve the health of your organization?
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