Improving communications in your facility can help you build strong relationships and helps everyone to accomplish more goals with less energy.
As you improve communication skills:
- You are viewed as successful.
- You become go-to person in your facility.
- You come across more opportunities.
- You reduce potential for misunderstanding and overlapping activities.
How do you improve communications?
It is important to take the time to say “good morning” or “how’s your day going?” to send a message of compassion and caring to the recipient.
Formality in internal communications, such as answering the phone, can kill any blossoming trust. For example, when answering your extension, immediately stating your name – even if it is followed by “how can I help you?” sets a tone that can cause the coworker on the other end to pause and question exactly how they should get to the topic they called about.
Something about making a gradual entry into the business conversation makes you more compassionate and much more approachable with whatever the request for the day is.
For some type-As, this is difficult because, as very driven and focused people, type As want to jump right into the business discussion. A better internal greeting? “Hi, this is [your first name].”
So beginning to build the relationship helps you to be more successful, but how do you notch it up? Continue down the path to building those relationships in all of your interactions. The good will you consistently show will start to accumulate.
Second, know your stuff. Knowledge earns you respect in your facility.
No one will listen to you if they don’t believe that you have the expertise. Everyone will want to spend time with you because of the insight you offer.
Third, listen. And make sure you listen more than you talk.
Many managers feel like they need to talk a lot to show that they are in charge. This just isn’t true. If you’re talking 55 minutes of your hour-long planning meetings, you’re not sharing knowledge, you’re more likely pontificating than sharing knowledge and taking away any opportunity for others to provide input or share ideas. This type of behavior will never draw out knowledge or even opinions from others at your facility.
And just as important, by listening, you can “hear between the lines” and understand some of the dynamics that are working (or not working) in your facility.
Everyone in your facility needs to believe that their opinion matters and that their contributions to your efforts are valued.
Fourth, focus on understanding what others are saying.
Don’t be distracted by phones, devices or other people. Don’t start formulating your answers or making your arguments while the others are talking. Make eye-contact and become engaged in the conversation by asking questions.
If you feed back what you’ve understood the other person to say so that you confirm your understanding of it, you ensure that you won’t miscommunicate in the future and you head any hard feelings or misunderstandings before they can be born. Notice body language because it is powerful and can convey details that the spoken words don’t.
Fifth, seek out face-to-face communication.
You lose information when you use email, phone, IM, or texting as your mode of communication. Realize that your youngest employees don’t quite get this because they have been indoctrinated with the use of electronics so they may require some coaching to understand what they can gain from in-person interaction.
Sixth, be aware of details.
Notice patterns, inconsistencies, and consistencies. True feelings may be hidden in how a team member reacts to, answers and contributes in conversations and meetings and in their speech patterns, word use and tone. Being able to read these signals can help you to keep a communication breakdown from happening.
Seventh, take ownership of your emotional reactions.
It is very important to demonstrate that you own your reactions, using “I” in sharing examples instead of “you”. You is incredibly in-effective because it immediately puts the person on the defensive.
Eighth is making your mind a sponge.
As owner, manager and chief communicator, you have the power to allow a new idea to flourish or die – in a mere moment. Don’t be immediate in rejecting ideas or approaches but consider how they could fit into your goals. Listening here is again important because rejecting an idea without hearing all of the details may mean you’re missing opportunities.
Ninth, be truthful.
Of course, being truthful completely aligns with being open-minded. You gain trust in your everyday interactions with people when you tell the truth – even when it’s difficult. Consistently exhibit integrity in your daily conversations and actions help you build the trust that you need to improve your workplace communications.
Tenth, observe the “24-Hour Rule”.
The 24-Hour Rule is this: If you are going to be critical or controversial or if you’re angry or emotional about a communication, wait 24 hours before you answer. It helps you to put your words into perspective and to make your word choices without your thought process being clouded by your emotions and can present whatever it is you want to need to say in ways that are demeaning and ineffective.
Today, we tend to be very immediate with communication lines that never rest. But it may not be the best for building relationship with those you work with every day and in helping them to understand the valuable role that they play in the facility’s success.