The Key to Effective Communication – Understanding ‘Their’ View
We always stress on the importance of communication within an organisation. Unless you constantly communicate your goals and values to your team, they are unlikely to align with the company’s vision and mission. Discussing short-term and long-term objectives of an individual, team and the organisation is important to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
The challenge is that communication isn’t as simple as it seems. It is a two-way street. You might be able to flawlessly articulate what you want to say. But how do you ensure that the other person hears what you are saying? Each person processes information in a way that is shaped by their background, past experiences and their unique view of the world.
For example, recently, one of our clients was expressing his frustration at the fact that his team members simply don’t seem to ‘get’ what he is saying. For instance, he had clearly told one of his team members that he needs to engage more with clients. His concern was that fact that the team member simply didn’t seem to internalize the message. When he brought it up with the team member, he was quite surprised because he believed that he was, in fact, engaging more with clients. Turns out he was engaging more but not in the way that his manager expected him to. For instance, the manager expected him to proactively call the clients once a week. Responding to email in a timely manner was the team member’s definition of being more engaging.
If you analyse your communication at the workplace, you’ll be surprised to see how subjective most of the language is. Terms like ‘teamwork’, ‘engagement’, ‘customer-centricity’ are actually quite vague. While most people understand what customer centricity means, they are unlikely to be on the same page about what it means to be customer-centric in their role.
So, how does one ease these communication challenges?
Whenever possible, provide metrics and numbers. Instead of saying, ‘engage more with clients’ say ‘Ensure you are proactively calling clients twice a week.’
Ask questions to gauge if your team has grasped the essence of what you are saying. At the same time, encourage your team members to ask for clarifications.
Take time to understand your team members’ view of the world. Where do they come from? How do they spend their free time? What are their life challenges? It will help shape your conversations better to make them more effective.
Spell out the outcome expected
While the expected outcome might be clear in your head, it might not be that obvious to your team. Detailing the expected outcome and its impact is important to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Communication is key, but doing it right is most important.