Communication is vital for the success and well-being of any team because it facilitates the flow of information.
The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.– Sydney J. Harris
Why is Communication important?
We attribute a team’s success to many factors such as compatibility, hard work, accountability, tech-savviness, etc. However, the most important and often ignored asset that is responsible for a team’s success is effective communication. Communication skills are a must for any workplace. Thriving teams that work well together have implemented strategies for clear communication.
But before we discuss strategies for effective communication, let’s first understand why Communication is so important.
- Communication is critical to gain alignment with your team, stakeholders, and leadership.
- Goals, objectives, project status, progress, achievements, milestones, and blockers – all need to be succinctly communicated.
- Frequent, candid, and clear communication from leaders is important to build your team’s morale and motivation.
- You need to ensure your team has the ability and means to communicate concerns and get their questions answered.
- Facilitating good communication within your team will enhance collaboration and coworking.
- Frank and consistent communication will allow you to build accountability on your team.
- Effective communication fosters growth, builds strong relationships, and allows to deliver business value.
Strategies for Effective Communication in the Workplace
The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.
– Simon Sinek
#1 Create An Open Environment
When you create an open environment at your workplace, team members will feel empowered to come to you when there is a problem, or they have made a mistake or they see red flags. Team members will not be afraid to share what’s on their minds. An open environment makes it easy to share wins, losses, critical feedback, and new ideas. This will go long way in building trust in the team. Strive to remove bias, encourage free-flowing conversations, draw out the reserved people, and see what positive changes happen in your team.
Here are some ways in which you can create an open environment –
- Explain to your team the need for transparency and how you benefit from it.
- Set an example of honest, transparent conversation. Recognize team members when they engage in transparent communication.
- Encourage the team to be self-critical without penalizing them for bad decisions or losses.
- Set expectations up-front about the need for ideation and free communication. There are no bad ideas and there are no stupid questions.
- Gently nudge the reserved people on your team. Ask for their opinions. Get everybody to participate.
#2 Share The “Why”
In his famous TED Talk, Simon Sinek explains how leaders inspire action and build trust when they communicate the “Why” first. In my experience many conflicts could have been averted had the leaders shared the “Why” behind certain decisions. Knowing the rationale is critical for your team members to build clarity. Take the time to articulate to your team – who is the customer, what problems are you trying to solve, why is it important to the business, what impact will you have, and how will you measure success? Answers to questions like this will help them stay motivated and committed to your cause.
The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.– Peter Drucker
#3 Tailor Your Message
Of all the strategies, this is the trickiest. This is where you get to hone your “people skills”. Knowing your audience is vital. Your team is diverse, with people from different cultures that have different communication skills and styles. What information are they seeking? Are they in technical weeds with you, do they care to know all the details, or would like it summarized? Know when to be brief and when to elaborate. Know when to use technical jargon and when to explain in the common man’s language. Are you communicating in a one-on-one setting or a group setting? Is the discussion online or in-person? Your message may be the same but recognize the need to adapt your communication style – your tone, body language, delivery, and content based on your audience.
Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’
– Brené Brown
#4 Remain Present & Listen Intently
This is hard simply because most of us listen with the intent of responding not with the intent of understanding. Unlearn this behavior. Instead, develop skills to listen actively, without assumptions and bias. Then ask clarifying questions. Did you understand what they were saying? Do you need additional information? When you establish empathetic connections, you will be able to improve communication and create better relationships.
Here are some ways to practice empathy at work –
- Listen actively with the intent of understanding what they are saying. Give your complete attention.
- Ask clarifying questions to validate your understanding of the matter.
- Acknowledge their feelings. It’s possible that you may feel differently about the subject. There is no right or wrong. Recognizing that feelings can differ, is important.
- Seek more than one perspective. Your first response may be based on assumptions or unconscious bias.
- Offer to help when you can. There may not be a need for action. Sometimes people just want to be listened to.
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