Who do you talk and interact with the most? Those closest and most important to you, right? And let me guess, you’ve had more than a few major bust ups, arguments, broken relationships and heartaches over the years, right? Not to mention communication breakdowns in dealing with family and friends or idiots at work. When has ‘Communication let you down’? How’s that working for you?
In this article, I’m using the terms ‘company’, ‘organisation’, ‘boardroom table’ etc. because it’s an easy context to use. But, don’t think the same principles aren’t relevant to you even if you’re not an executive. I could just as easily say ‘club’, ‘sports team’, ‘family’, or ‘dining/kitchen table’. So, read on…
A bold statement indeed! And I don’t mean just the ‘official’ conversations round the boardroom table or with customers and clients; I mean those in the lunch room, or at after work drinks down the pub; or the conversations that staff have with their friends and family about their work. If people are backstabbing, complaining, forcing opinions, ignoring others or just not understanding what in the company is going on; company (and family) culture starts to fester and die.
Even in today’s technology driven business world the need for clear, effective, creative, empathetic conversation is crucial for success. In fact, it might be even more important because of the faster pace, urgent deadlines and the need for instant responses which increases everyone’s stress. A recent report from Judith E. Glaser and Richard D. Glaser PhD in the Harvard Business Review (1) demonstrates how negative comments in the workplace affect us physically and mentally. Negative comments increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol which shuts down clear thinking and increases defensiveness and blame. It also lowers immune response and can cause serious illness over time. Staff at home sick costs you money, time and hassle. Positive comments and communications on the other hand increases oxytocin; a hormone essential for bonding, friendship, collaboration, trust and feeling good.
But effective communication goes waaay beyond just saying positive comments. The art of effective communication is in gaining and communicating understanding; being able to understand what others mean, and get your meaning across effectively. We all know that some people can be great at doing their job but seem unable to get their ideas across to others. When understanding is poor, frustration rises and conflicts can happen. Degrees of conflict arise anyway, in any context. In these situations effective communication skills become even more vital.
So how does effective communication happen? What are the variables? Well, obviously people are involved so ‘people skills’ are key. Gaining trust and building a good relationship is the start point. Do that and you become more liked and trusted. And that in turn forms the foundation for being more persuasive and influential. Other key variables are the effective use of your own language and being able to identify how others are using or misusing their language. You can now clarify for yourself – and them – their message.
When effective communication is adopted and used in an organisation (or family, or club, or team), everybody wins. Sick leave is reduced, people love their jobs and engagement increases. Staff-to-staff and staff-to-client interactions become more streamlined and harmonious as understanding and rapport increases. The overall culture of the company becomes much healthier and this can be reflected in the bottom line.
Effective communication skills are essential beyond the immediate confines of your office too; for sales and influencing clients and customers, and in negotiation with suppliers and partners. Effective communication is also essential in writing sales copy and recruitment ads.
When the quality of the conversations in the workplace are positive and supportive, when staff speak wonderfully and excitedly about their work to friends and family… the word spreads and your company gains a reputation in the marketplace that puts you ahead of competitors. And this is equally true in a personal sense, in personal and family life.
NLP is known by many as the most effective model of communication. Having learned it, it’s transformed every area of my life; it can for you too. At the time of this article I have a NLP Practitioner course starting soon. Email me for the full brochure; firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, here’s a flashback just for fun… for those old enough to remember! Ah, takes me back! Enjoy.