Saturday, July 6, 2013

5 Tips to Keep Your Communication in Tip Top Shape

It's very easy with the hustle bustle of most businesses to let all sorts of "pink elephants" (issues that have gone unaddressed) enter the room and camp out forever. When communication falls by the wayside, so does any form of real trust, team efforts, and ultimately morale.

Being a professional seminar speaker, I believe when you implement these five very simple (not easy) powerful principles, then the very foundational aspects of building a strong morale, seem to fall into place.

1) It Starts from the Top Down - Key elements of leadership are important in building a positive productive work culture. It's essential that leaders must live according to the principles and rules they ascribe to.

So if the CEO says, "We are a transparent culture," than they too, need to follow it in their own life. It doesn't have to look like a 2 hour download sharing their Social Security number
and intimate financial information to the employees, but rather finding ways to be transparent, in small, but powerful ways.

A simple, "How was your weekend?" to an employee and really listening to the answer, and sharing something personal but appropriate with them, such as "Our daughter got into Leigh University, and we were both relieved and grateful, since the competition is so steep." A simple statement like that, sends a message of challenge, victory and also vulnerability, which allows the people who work for the CEO to start seeing them in a more human accessible way.

2) Save as Draft - One of the most important part of communicating is knowing when to and when not to. When you find yourself triggered by someone's behavior, feeling the need to defend yourself, or mildly distracted or overwhelmed, write down everything you want to say in an e-mail and then hit those three magical words "Save as Draft." Buy yourself the gift of time and a renewed perspective. Often
when we go back even 20 minutes later, we can see, what we want to say, with a fresh perspective.

3) Get Curious versus Critical - It's very easy when someone says or does something that bothers you, you either ignore it, or you go out of your way to get the last word in, which ultimately, is a mistake. Do whatever you can do to release the upset (journaling, talking to a trusted friend, etc.) clarify what you need and go to the person, first, to understand what prompted the response and then share what you need around it. It's a good tip from my Life Coaching programs.

For example, if you ask someone 4 times for the same document and they keep saying "Yes," and then don't, you can easily say, "I'm curious, we spoke several times about you sending me the X document, but it still has not been delivered, can you explain what's holding it up, and how do we move forward on getting it handled?"

4) Mirror Back - Just so that there's no confusion, it's always a best practice to reflect back what the person has said and have them "sign off" on it. Sentence stems like, "If I heard you right…." "Did I get that right?" "Is there more?" let's them know that you're listening and interested in addressing their thoughts and concerns.

5) Establish Next Steps - One of the biggest challenges about meetings is that people think of them as big waste of time. One of the reasons for that is there is no system for accountability and implementation. After the myriad of topics that have been covered get addressed, make sure that there's a round-up where everyone says what they are taking on, and attach a date for the deliverable. This takes the guess work out of whether the task will get handled.

Integrate these five actions and all those "pink elephants" can go back to the "Communication Breakdown Zoo."

About the Author

Lois Barth is a Motivational Speaker, Coach and Trainer who support groups and individuals in thriving both personally and professionally, but helping them clarify their goals, navigate change, communicate better and stress less and lighten up.

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