I can’t hear you because I won’t stop talking…. Communication is a two way process and when you’re trying to share information with another person who is only content with hearing their own message, as the saying goes “you might as well been talking to a wall.”
Communication is vital in every aspect of a successful business. Yes, your company may have a mission statement, policies and procedures in place. But if they are not working and you as the boss refuse to listen to your advisors, going to end up like the Captain on the Titanic who probably had a navigator who wanted to say, “Hey Captain, we should probably go around that iceberg.”
Effective Workplace Communication must be a two way action. Dr. Stephen Covey in his “Seven Habits for Effective People,” lists it as one of the most important functions “ https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits-habit5.php “Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood.”
If you don’t believe me here are some other great quotes about communication:
“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.” Bill Gates.
“But behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as a language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.” Abraham Maslow.
Here in the Northwest or even around the planet, we don’t have to say anymore about how effective Bill Gates has been as a business leader. And when we speak of freedom, in the workplace, majority of those employees want the freedom to come to work, do the best job they can, perform at top levels, and go home with a sense of accomplishment. Part of that freedom understands that their thoughts and communication is heard and acknowledged. This is why Unions became so popular; employees did not have a voice in how they were being treated at work.
Dr. Maslow’s comments are a perfect example of when employees feel they do not have a voice in their workplace; they will react in manners that can be counter-productive. If you have gossip in your workplace, many times is just a form of disgruntled employees using the only means they know how to communicate against the practices and policies that are ineffective. I am not talking about personal gossip, but workplace rumors and hearsay. This creates the sense of negativity and that will only cause counter-production in the workplace.
It’s important that the Boss, Managers, and Supervisors listen to their employees. Yes, there are those employees who talk just to hear themselves. But for every one of those, there are usually nine others who actually have something constructive to say, but feel that if they speak up their either wasting their time or them fear they might embarrass someone and face retaliation.
“Communication is the real work of leadership.” Nitin Nohria
As a Workplace Leader, you have to set your professional and personal EGO aside and not be afraid to admit, someone else has a better idea. Someone may know how to do it better. Someone else may be right. The boss, who claims to know everything, probably does not understand a lot.
You need to get this accomplished by Friday, you tell your team that this project must be done by Friday and walk off. You as the Boss believe they understand how they should do their jobs. They have been doing this for months or even years. But what the Boss forgot was maybe this was short week? Maybe there were other projects being done? Maybe a vital piece of equipment just broke down or is not working at full capacity? Maybe three of the team members were scheduled to start vacation that week and three others are working on other projects for a different department. Does this sound familiar?
No one was going to alert the Boss to these situations because they have learned over the years, that the Boss does not listen. That the Boss only wants to hear what the Boss has to say and no other opinions or input matters. Then when Friday comes around, whose fault is it? Yep, the employees will get the blame and that only deepens the behavior of preventing communication.
Here are some quick tips that you can use to help you in your workplace communication:
- Listen to what is being said to you, even if you don’t agree with it.
- Remember, the goal in communication is to listen, not to censure.
- Don’t interrupt
- Remain objective; do not allow your personal prejudices, EGO, or emotions to disapprove the ideas or communication.
- Listen; don’t assume you already know what they are going to say.
- Keep an open mind
- Don’t plan your response while you’re listening to the person who is speaking
- Allow time for a discussion. You may think 15 minutes of discussion is a waste of time. Consider how much time you’re going to have to spend/waste going over it again after the disaster.
If you as a Boss, Manager, or Supervisor take the time to learn how to use Effective Workplace Communication, you’re going to spend less time worrying about the projects, correcting mistakes down the road, apologizing to your Boss or Customers, and you will be developing a positive work environment that is only going to benefit everyone involved.
So the next time you’re wondering if you have time to listen to your employees ideas on how to raise the level of productivity, take my advice and just shut up and listen, it could save your job.