Oh dear. Where do you begin with ‘communication’? We just need to improve it? Daft as it may seem, it is the one thing that any of us who work as consultants can almost guarantee to put in the report for the board before we start any investigation. That is an indictment in itself, I suppose. But, like everyone agrees they need to improve their time management at their annual appraisal (more of that later…), every organisation can readily agree that they need to improve communication. Where though, do we start? This is too much for one blog – so the first one is going to be about…
I am sure we all agree, that it is them that cause the problem. We are fine. So are our friendly colleagues – the people we like. But the rest? “I just don’t know where they are coming from…” Ever said that?
I don’t know how to break this to you, but that is the essence of the problem. We get on best with people who are like us. The real skill is being able to flex our style so that we build bridges with more people. You don’t have to love people at work. You just have to make sure you all know what you are both on about. That means not assuming, checking, listening (actively – don’t think of anything else when someone is talking to you. It’s rude and slows things down).
Let’s just consider two basic personality types – the extrovert and introvert. Both trying to get through to each other. The extrovert not listening, but talking. The introvert listening, but not speaking. Never the twain shall meet! Unless the appreciate where each other is coming from…and make allowances for each other. Extroverts need to shut up and listen (even if they have to bite their tongue for what feels like ages…) and the introverts need to jump into that quiet space and say something – a question will do as a start, because you can then shut up again…as a reward.
Alright, there is much more you can do (I use various profiling tools to help, like Insight to Communication Styles), but just get that basic right, and you are on the way.