As a business coach, the most consistent staff comment I hear is “Communication is lousy here.” Communication complaints push executives’ hot buttons. The common leadership response sounds like: “We have defined our [insert: vision, strategy, plan, project goals, mission, etc.] in detail. We used diagrams, pictures and even catchy phrases. Even then, the staff still doesn’t remember it! I don’t know why they don’t listen.”
From the Latin “communicare,” meaning to impart, share, or make common, the word communication entered the English language around the fourteenth century. Despite 800 years of practice, we still don’t have communication figured out…. It seems so simple – just talk to each other. Yet, it never seems to be. What makes communication so difficult?
All too often, communication in companies is a push out monologue: “Here’s what I want to TELL you.” Management and staff don’t need more tell-based communication. What they need is a dialogue – as in a two-way conversation. The days of “imparting wisdom from above” are gone. Your staff wants a two-way dialogue. They want to be talk with you, listen and be heard. It’s a pretty simple concept. The shift is you have to stop and listen.
….And Start a Dialogue
Step 1: Listening
Active listening is:
- Pausing my own lecturing and creating silent space for others comments
- Pausing my own bias and hearing the merits of what is really said
- Quieting my own head chatter and being present with the speaker
- Pausing your physical movements to show sincere interest….(no knee bouncing or finger tapping)
Step 2: The Dialogue
A two-way dialogue is:
- Acknowledging what was said in a curious and authentic manner
- Adding new perspective without lecturing or convincing the recipient they were wrong
- Sincerely creating a back & forth interaction that edifies that in both parties
Surprise those on your staff with space for a brief dialogue. Quite quickly, you will likely to be called a great communicator. Even a few minutes will provide surprising outcomes!