THE ART OF COMMUNICATION

Communication is more than the words we say.

We all struggle at times with our communication. We can experience a fear of being misunderstood or having difficulty finding the right words to express ourselves or our ideas. Communication is more than the words we say. It is also the way we say it, our tone, and the context. Communication skills can always be improved and developed. I have identified 4 keys necessary to mastering the art of communication.

1. TRUST

Communication creates a culture of openness and sharing but the foundation for that is trust. Trust is one of the qualities of best companies and organizations. Trust involves a long pattern of proven, good decisions and should be modeled from the top down and embraced at every level.

TRUST MODEL- 5 STEPS TO BUILD TRUST

  • Transparency– Talking about frustrations, fears, and worries openly, without fear of retribution, is the first step toward building and sustaining trust. Transparency is also about sharing our intentions so people do not read into them.
  • Relationships– Once you have established trust, the next step is to focus on building relationships and work out strategies for rebuilding those relationships marked by distrust. Tell people where they stand so that they can let go of their fears and questions such as, “Am I good enough” or “Do I belong” and can refocus on contributing. 
  • Understanding– One needs to learn to see the world through other people eyes, not just their own. We need to understand how to stand in one another’s shoes and understand their perspectives. Understanding each other’s “context” and “perspective” is invaluable to building trust.
  • Shared Success– Create a shared vision of success with others. When we have a common view of success, we start to intuitively trust that others will make decisions similar to ours and we trust they will work out conflicts fairly.
  • Truth Telling – Truth telling starts with being able to see the truth about our own behavior. It is about letting go of assumptions and building new frameworks that include people. Use honesty at all times. Tell the truth tactfully and within appropriate context.

We often think of communication in terms of what we say but one of the most important aspects of communication is listening.

2. ACTIVE LISTENING

Listening is not just about hearing. Listening is hearing with thoughtful and mindful attention. It’s the act of receiving and understand the message and responding to the spoken and non-spoken messages, both verbal & non-verbal communication. 

How do you feel when someone really listens to you? 

There are different levels of listening. I want to challenge you to useactive listening. Rather than just listening passively to what is being said, active listening involves focusing on what is being said and what is not being said, noting body language and tone of voice. Listening in this way helps to build rapport, understanding and trust. It helps us really hear what someone is saying, not just what we think they are saying.

3. THE WORDS WE SAY- MACRO VS. MICRO LANGUAGE

The words you use in a team setting can prevent a team breakthrough. Do team members using more micro or macro language? 

Macro language is generic, political, speculative and vague. Ex: “Our problem on this team is that certain people struggle with change.” We must stretch ourselves to use a more vulnerable and actionable form of language. 

Micro language is specific, straightforward, and makes use of people’s names. Ex: “Sue and I are struggling with the recent changes in office scheduling because we feel like our opinions don’t matter.” Specific language gives us something to solve for. It can feel risky and vulnerable but it will lead to an enhanced winning team culture that exhibits honesty and humility.

4. CONVERSATIONS

There are 3 levels of conversations:

Level 1 is transactional, telling others information and facts. The tendency is toward telling more than asking. 

Level 2 is positional, trying to persuade others to your point of view. The tendency is to ask questions which you already have all the answers for. 

Level 3 is transformational, as both parties are trusting, and open to sharing and discovering. A give and take of information where you explore what you don’t know, explore other’ perspectives, and join together to innovate and co-create. Transformational Conversation is the best way to address a positive culture killer like “information is power”where those not in the know have no power. It tears down barriers and leads to teamwork and collaboration.

Communication is essential because it helps us get what we need in order to do our best work and it enables us to help others get what they need to do their best work. People with the goal of helping others win= high performing teams = WINNING CULTURE.

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