Communication in the workplace is a necessary function for smooth operations and efficient teamwork. Five methods to enhance overall communication are provided in this article to promote an improved, collaborative environment.
Stay on Point
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Don’t use two words when one will do.” He was indicating that adding extra phrasing and fluff to our sentences only leads to confusion. Before speaking, think about what you want to say and pare it down to a main point. This is typically one or two sentences in length, at most.
If the subject complexity requires more detailed information, break it down into three or four points. When there are more than three or four points, try to organize them into main ideas. People find it easier to understand three ideas rather than ten, even if there are multiple sub-points under each one.
Organize your ideas and follow through with delivery. If disseminating via email, list each sub-point under one of the main ideas. When meeting or conversing in person about the topics, go through the primary ideas, and then circle back to provide detailed sub-points for each one.
Purposeful Meeting Structure
Almost everyone that attends a meeting wants to take part in the dialog. If all participants keep their sentences clear and to the point, it allows for quicker, smoother conversation. If a single person performs a monologue, the other attendees cannot be a part of the conversation. Likely, they cannot absorb the overabundance of one-sided information and may potentially have no takeaway at all.
Create structure within the meeting conducive to collaboration in the conversation. Provide breaks where people can reiterate the primary point and respond with additional information to retain full attention, while creating a team atmosphere. Letting go of complete control is essential to the process. Step back into the conversation as people get off topic to guide it back on course. This facilitates and encourages organic, collaborative problem solving.
New topics that come up should be noted and sidelined for future meetings. Staying focused on the primary objective helps the group improve information retention. Remain punctual, by showing up, starting, and ending meetings on time. This enforces the idea that everyone’s time is valuable.
When attending a meeting, the participants should be there and nowhere else. Mentally commit your full attention to the person talking, reinforcing that they are valuable and their idea is important to you. Eye contact and a focused energy should be standard practice. Avoid using phones, reading emails, or working on other projects.
Actively taking notes can help to retain ideas and information presented. As you listen, try to narrow down the content of the conversation and break it down into its main points. Listen with the intent to understand and not to respond. While focusing on a response, people fail to fully listen. When their minds begin coming up with responses, they are no longer processing the words being said.
When conversing, try to offer solutions and not just problems. This adds to any conversation and grabs attention better than pointing out the negatives. An issue may not have an apparent answer, so using the phrase “How do we solve this…” may help to build a positive atmosphere with less adversity. Using the inclusive “we” pronoun rather than “you” circumvents a perceived tone of attack towards a particular person and simply presents the problem at hand. It also creates an understanding that the responsibility of the issue can only be resolved together, as a team.
Accepting responsibility for a problem controls it, since this acknowledgement tends to focus more resolutely on a solution. Pointing fault only builds animosity and does not assist in determining solutions. As solutions are created, greater confidence is obtained in the process and in each other.
Always ask questions and seek the truth, rather than letting emotions drive you into proving how “right” you are. No one wants to be “wrong,” but ultimately this tendency to need to be “right” undermines the team dynamic. It is important to note that you cannot change others, but you can try to understand them with openness and a common goal in mind.
It is nearly impossible to modify all of our bad habits in communication simultaneously. In order for true change to be effective, pick one skill to work on at a time. In the next conversation or meeting you attend, focus on implementing one of the communication tactics described. Afterwards, go back over the conversation in your head to see how well it went. Try to identify positives and learn from mistakes.
Slowly attempt each skill, continuously honing and improving it until it becomes a good habit. Begin combining all five skills and review how it goes again. This self-awareness of the process not only helps in improvement, but it also helps in retaining information from the conversation.
About Automated Systems, Inc.
Since 1981, Automated Systems, Inc. has been a leader in providing innovative core banking, digital banking, and data processing solutions to community banks nationwide. An array of integrated applications provide partnered banks with tailored, cost-effective, competitive choices. ASI delivers industry-leading technology backed by unparalleled in-house conversion, training and support teams; paving the way for progressive, top-notch customer service. ASI corporate headquarters are located at 1201 Libra Drive, Lincoln, NE 68512, 1.800.279.7312. For more information about banking solutions from ASI, visit www.asiweb.com.
About Insite Data Services
IDS data application hosting services combines secure and cost-effective core banking applications, enterprise-class servers and storage, and proven virtualization technology. IDS hosts all of the bank’s servers in secure data centers that use state of the art security systems including identity verification and biometric scanning. Insite Data Services also offers IDS On-Time, a full-service solution dedicated to back-office bank processing. These operations experts allow partnered banks to focus on their most important asset, their customers. For more information visit www.insitedataservices.com.
Dr. Alex Lyon: Communication Professor
Patrick Dang: International Sales Trainer