Everyone Communicates, but...Nov 09, 2021
…we don't always connect with others when we do. What I've learned from working with dozens of teams over the years, is that good communication among members of the team can be difficult to achieve.
In any given situation, I have found there are often six different things going on: there's what you think you said, what you actually said, what the other person heard, what you think the other person heard, what the other person things about what you said, and what you think the other person thinks about what you said. That is a lot of potential for misunderstanding. No wonder effective communication is such a challenge!
There can be many reasons for this, but here are five that seem to surface again and again.
- Many of us make the mistake of believing that everyone thinks the way we do, until we are surprised that someone has a totally different response from ours in a given situation.
- Every one of us listens through a series of filters that we may or may not be aware of. These filters may prevent us from truly understanding where the other person is coming from.
- We are often in a hurry to get our point across, without checking for understanding. We don't stop to ask - or notice - if the other person is "getting it." We just assume. And sometimes, we assume wrong.
- In today's crazy busy sometimes virtual world, we miss the subtle clues that help us to better understand one another. And we rarely take the time to explore how we can better communicate with each other.
- When we interact with others, we are each driven by different needs and priorities. What causes stress in one person may actually motivate another. And we are largely unaware of these differences.
So, what can be done to improve communications among team members?
When I work with teams who want to enhance their communications, I use a diagnostic tool that provides insight into each person's unique style of behavior. With this information, people can clearly see the plus side of the way they interact with others and how they bring value to the team with their unique style.
As importantly, they learn about their blind spots and some of the difficulties that can arise from their personal style, when people misunderstand their intent. This knowledge can be very useful to someone who is trying to improve their ability to interact with others.
They also learn about other styles of behavior that are different than theirs. This type of insight can be eye-opening to someone who thinks everyone thinks like they do and sees things the same way. Just realizing these differences is an opportunity to increase the effectiveness of interactions.
By investing some time in exploring communication and behavioral style differences, team members learn how to personally contribute to the team goals, and they also learn how to take better advantage of the contributions that others bring to the team. This knowledge increases the likelihood that members of the team will avoid unhealthy, destructive conflict. This knowledge helps to build trust among the team members and trust is the necessary foundation to any healthy, cohesive, high performing team.
I have been helping teams improve communication for a long time now. The tools have evolved and improved over time. Today, there is amazing online tool that helps individuals that work together better understand themselves and each other, as well as how to interact more effectively with each other. For example, participants can learn how to solve problems with someone who has a different style and what to do when things get tense. This knowledge can give a project team a real boost in achieving results on time and on budget.
Think about the communication among members of your team. How would you describe it? What would you like to improve about it? To what degree is your team getting the results you need?
In the last few years, as people have worked from home, interacted largely over zoom, and experienced a combination of worksite plus virtual collaborations, effective communications has become even more challenging. If you are not paying attention to the evolving needs of your team when it comes to communications, you may be losing degrees of engagement slowly but surely. Whether you have personally experienced the Great Resignation yet or not, now is the time to address this.
Schedule a Discovery Session with Cheryl