Civil communications skills are on the endangered list.
The hostile and vitriolic attitudes on display from the political arena to Main Street are trickling down and creating challenges in the workplace. How could they not? They’re affecting everyone pretty much everywhere. It’s getting harder to have civil discourse on the national or local levels. Has it ever been more nasty?
At work, the ability to communicate is a goal on almost every job performance evaluation you give or get. And we all know that it is a key ingredient for a successful team environment. But have you ever really listened to how people are talking to each other these days?
So as I was thumbing through a cable company magazine a while back, I stopped to gaze at an article that featured 10 things you can do to improve the way you communicate.
There is a good ending to this lesson.
--Listen: Listen to what people are expressing and try to understand what’s going on with them internally. Don’t make assumptions.
--Don’t interrogate: Ask open-ended questions but avoid excessive questioning. Use general conversation starters like “How’s it going” and then be silent.
--Be honest. Practice honesty and respect. If someone asks something and you don’t know the answer, be honest. Say you don’t know and then find out.
--Keep calm: Avoid yelling, making threats or using labels to describe people.
--Skip the lecture: Don’t lecture people or repeat the same thing constantly. Those tactics usually cause people to tune you out.
--Pay attention: When someone is talking to you, give them your complete focus. Stop whatever you else you are doing and use eye contact.
--Be gentle: Avoid power struggles. You might hold the power but you lose ultimately when you break someone’s spirit.
--No judgments: Express your opinions without being judgmental. Remember to be concise so your comments don’t turn into a lecture.
--Use positive reinforcement: Don’t dwell on someone’s mistakes. Focus on their accomplishments to demonstrate support and build self-esteem.
--Take a walk: Create situations that allow you to communicate with people. … One on one time will strengthen your relationship.
I didn’t expect to discover those 10 communications tips in a cable trade magazine. And I surely didn’t think that I’d find them under a headline that said: “10 tips to improve communication with your children.”
Which only serves as a reminder that the same basic lessons we all try to apply to our kids work really well on adults, too. With practice, maybe some of them will start to grow up.