Probably the number one challenge for companies that I have found through working with me is communicating effectively on a consistent basis.
We have more ways to communicate than ever before in our history and yet in most cases do a terrible job at it. Many people in business communicate but few truly connect or are understood which leads to a lot of mutual mystification. For this reason, I want to review some ways that we can communicate more effectively.
Let’s look at a couple of areas:
The first area is communication factors. Our communication consists of 3 factors: the words we use, the tone and inflection of those words and body language which includes facial expressions.
Profesor Albert Mehrabian of the University of California in Los Angeles studied communicated and found that of our total communication message the words represent only 7%, the tonality is 38% and our body language is 55%. Right here we can see lots of ways for our communication may be misunderstood.
You can also use other models, such as the DISC model to understand communication styles. DISC is the universal language of observable human behavior. It creates a report that tells the assessment taker HOW they do what they do.
One of the great values behind the DISC model is you can take an assessment and in 10 minutes identify your style and you can also learn the style of everyone on your team. Knowing each others’ communication style and adapting your style to communicate better is an excellent way to improve the communication of your team.
There are also barriers to effective communication that we must be aware of and seek to overcome.
The first is attitude. The truth is people do things for their reasons, not ours, so we have to be in tune to their attitudes and values.
Another is lack of trust – trust is earned and not bestowed, so it is important to develop a trusting relationship with the people we are communicating with in the workplace and every area of our lives.
The third is distractions – internal and external. External distractions surround us daily such as people, notifications on social media or e-mail, background noise. Internal distractions are our head trash, internal dialogue and/or lack of interest.
We must seek to eliminate distractions whenever possible. Our preconceived thoughts and ideas can also negatively impact communication. These can include personal prejudices, perceptions, and personality traits. As we increase our own self-awareness, we can more easily identify which personal factors may be inhibiting our communication with others.
Lack of communication skills is another issue. Most people don’t really know how to connect and listen, it is important to study communication styles and practice effective communication.
Lack of concentration can cause us to miss important information and talking too much means we are not listening. Having an “I” focus is another major barrier to communication. When you are all about yourself and not the other person, you are not REALLY hearing what they are saying.
A Few Commandments of Good Communication
- Develop trust and credibility. It’s not automatically given; it must be earned. Authentic sincerity helps to create an atmosphere of trust.
- Effective communicators use the 5 C’s in their message: Clear, Complete, Concise, Concrete, and Correct.
- Every perspective is a perspective.
- What we hear and what we see depends largely on what we are listening and looking for.
- Openly communicate more than you have to or need to. Make it your top priority. Say what you mean. Say exactly what you mean.
The real question is: How do you know if you are successful at communicating?