Communication problems and unresolved conflict in the workplace may be two of your biggest risks. Whether you are trying to convey policies, proper methodologies, expectations, or coaching, the ability to communicate effectively often proves to be a limiting factor for many people – especially managers and supervisors. If you are a great communicator, then you can develop broad influence and deep impact. If you struggle to be engaging, compelling and memorable, then you will likely experience and cause a lot of frustration for yourself and the people with whom you work.
If there is unresolved conflict within your team or between one or more of your team members, or between one or more of your external customers – whoever that may be – this too can cause a significant loss of productivity, create a hostile environment, and in some cases, result in various kinds of elevated risks.
Here are some tips to help you become a better communicator. First, be a better listener. If you do not listen, you should not consider yourself a great communicator, regardless of how prolific you may be at presenting your ideas. Moreover, when I say listen, I do not simply mean to be physically present, and hear another person talking. Listening is active. It requires you to be patient, and give your best energy to understanding their perspective. It means remaining in receiving mode until they are completely finished with their statement, without trying to interrupt them with your response. You have to process what the other person is saying, evaluate whether you understand and/or agree with them, and consider how you are going to apply the information you got from them.
Secondly, stop being a “teller of information” and become a “seller of ideas”. Many people get frustrated in the communication process because they believe they have done an adequate job of explaining “the facts”, when the reality is no one was listening. Though others may have heard what they said, they were not really listening and grabbing the pertinent information. Consider what the information will mean to your audience and how they will use it. Why do they need the information and what difference is it going to make. Present it in a way that engages them first, informs them second, and directs them appropriately.
Third and final tip: If conflict exists, whether you are directly involved with it or not, you have to realize that it will not resolve itself. Figure out who is involved, and eliminate the cheerleaders. Focus on the point of conflict, listen to both sides, and determine your strategy. Make sure you do not confuse personality or personal preference with the facts. When it is time to “sit down and talk it out”, make sure you maintain a professional tone and a conversational volume level. Once it is over, try to get everyone to move on. A running scoreboard is not good for anyone.
By increasing your communication effectiveness and resolving conflict when it arises, your team members will be more engaged in their work. They will learn more from the training/coaching that is provided to them and they will be much more likely to work together as a team. As a result, productivity and customer retention will both increase, and accidents and problems that arise from disengagement will dramatically decrease.