Communicating effectively involves several important factors. According to Mike Thompson, these include taking ownership of the situation, staying focused, and knowing your recipient’s personality style.
Thompson, a business coach with ActionCOACH in New Berlin, Wis., discussed these nuances during a recent meeting of the New Berlin Chamber of Commerce. He offers a different perspective on the art of effective communication: “True communication is the response you get.” Meaning, did he or she do or say what you hoped for?
One problem in business communications, Thompson says, is that workers don’t always take ownership of an issue. It can languish, with no action by the recipient.
Let’s say there is negotiation or conversation in progress. Your colleague is asked about the matter, and merely shrugs his or her shoulders. “Not sure. I left him a message and haven’t heard anything back.” In essence, the worker is saying, “I’ve done my part,” and is blaming the other party for the breakdown in communication.
A responsible person, Thompson says, would find ways to keep the line of communication going. Ideally, those extra steps would lead to the desired conclusion, whatever that is.
Though not addressed then, I would add another phenomenon: Asking a manager to bail you out of a an issue. I did that a few times over the years. Of course, there are times when management’s involvement is needed. But sometimes the employee or sales rep just needs to rethink the matter. If some part of the agreement must be changed or revisited, do so. Take time to craft a thorough explanation. Stated properly, the client will understand. Employees mature as they face and resolve these situations.
Multitasking gets in the way of good communicating, Thompson says. While we may be more productive, we’re not totally “in” the conversation. Cut out the distractions–which is to say, silence your phone–so you can listen attentively.
Another problem is what Thompson calls the “I Know” mentality. Someone raises an issue (or question), and your listening immediately shuts down because you’ve heard it before. Or thought you have. I’ve witnessed this many times over the years, and have been guilty of it myself. “Even if you hear something familiar,” Thompson says, you may hear a new angle on it.
Ah, you say: “But I DO run into those individuals.” And you’d like to cut them off. Thompson offers a great reply: “Isn’t that interesting?” You’re expressing your sentiment but allowing the learning process to proceed. You haven’t shut out the speaker. Who knows what you might learn by hearing the person out?
That’s an excellent phrase, and I intend to use it. Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock had a good response, too: “Fascinating.”
Toward the end of his presentation Thompson took us through a brief review of the DISC® profiling method. Audience members were divided into groups based upon their responses to certain questions. (I discovered I’m a Conscientiousness type, but also lean toward Steadiness.) Thompson pointed out some of the characteristics of each personality type so we can better understand how to interact with others. It’s a fascinating and revealing process. I’ve been through profiles before, and always appreciate learning about how the different personality types interact.
For related reading, see “Strengthen leadership skills with improved communication skills.”
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