By Jo Britton
How many times have you said this or heard someone say it to you? Perhaps you’ve been involved in a spat with the boss, frustrated that they just don’t seem to understand or see things your way? Or maybe you find yourself having to mediate or resolve conflict between two ‘warring colleagues’ at work?
In my coaching work with leaders and managers, the topic of communication frequently comes up – whether it’s the business generally that needs to improve, their team or themselves.
Being an effective communicator can save relationships, improve your ability to sell, lead through change and make you and your team much more productive.
Poor or ineffective communication can have a detrimental impact upon your relationships and the productivity of your business.
A recent study by The Economist Intelligence Unit in which over 400 senior executives, managers and junior staff at US companies were surveyed seems to back this up. It cites poor communication as the cause of added workplace stress (said 52% of respondents), delays or failure to complete projects (44%), low morale (31%), missed performance goals (25%) and even lost sales (18%).
So how can you improve communication at work?
I’d always considered myself a decent communicator. I found it easy to chat to people and listen with interest. And in my early days working in business development, my sales mentor gave me some sound advice which seemed to serve me well, “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion.”
It wasn’t until I trained as a professional coach and spent hundreds of hours coaching different people from all walks of life, that I truly appreciated what it takes to be good at communicating.
In my experience, too many businesses see technology as the solution to improving communication. They invest heavily in the latest digital communication platforms, video conferencing, instant messaging and social media tools to help them solve the problem. Yet, they still grapple with communication issues in the workplace.
I’m not knocking technology. It really does have its place. Indeed I’m really grateful for Skype and Zoom which help me run my coaching sessions with clients. But perhaps in our modern, digital world, we’ve forgotten something really fundamental . Communication is about people. In the businesses I’ve worked with, I’ve found that one of the greatest causes of poor communication was not that the business didn’t have the latest technology, but that it lacked the appreciation that, as individuals, we all have our own preferred styles of communicating. In other words, how we prefer to communicate ourselves and like to be communicated with, differs between people. And a lot of this depends on our personalities.
Steady, steady, aim, fire
Some of us are naturally more reserved in nature. We like to reflect and think things through. We think first before we act. And prefer to work at a slower pace. You’ll generally find that we’re members of the ‘Get it right’ or ‘Get along’ clubs.
The ‘Get it rights’
We like to follow rules, processes and systems. With a tendency to be cautious, we take pride in being precise. We love the details and are polite and diplomatic. You’ll notice us in meetings as the quiet folk that take notes. When we ask questions, we like to be logical and detailed. Our motto is ‘Get it right!’. So gives us the facts and details if you want to communicate better with us.
The ‘Get alongs’
We’re usually steady, supportive and very understanding. We consider the impact of actions on others. We too like some time to reflect and often prefer a slower pace of work. We’re great listeners and look for the democratic solution. Our motto is ‘Get along!’ If you communicate with us in a friendly, empathetic and sincere way, it’ll go a long way.
Aim, fire, fire!
Some of us are more naturally outgoing in nature. We often act first before thinking. In meetings, we’re likely to be the ones that dominate discussions. We tend to belong to the ‘Get it done’ or the ‘Get recognition’ clubs.
The ‘Get it dones’
We get a buzz from working on lots of things and at a great pace. Results-focused, we like to keep things high-level. Whilst at times we may appear a bit direct or blunt at times, we just love to talk in bullet points. Detail isn’t always our favourite thing so avoid sending us a lengthy email. At best we’ll skip over it, at worst we’ll just ignore it. Tell us the bottom-line and we’re with you.
The ‘Get recognition’
We’re the highly sociable, friendly sorts. The chatty ones that you’ll meet around the water cooler asking you how your weekend was. Our sunny, glass half-full optimism and abundance of enthusiasm is what we’re known for. We love to explore new things, work quickly and be appreciated. So, pick up the phone to us or better still come and see us for chat. It’ll get you a long way.
Recognise any of these descriptions in yourself?
You do? Great. Once you know your own communication preference you can spot preferences in others. Then adapt your style to suit the preference of the person you are communicating with. This will help you develop quick rapport. And people that have rapport with you are more likely to listen and be influenced by what you say.
If you’d like help to become a better communicator, our communicating with influence and impact coaching and training may be just the ticket. Enquire here