Communication is key to the success of knowing how to lead a team
Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share”])
“is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behaviour.
It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more living creatures…
any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person information about that person’s needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or affective states.” [Wikipedia]
Or in plain English – sharing the stuff of life where both sides are really interested in the other person’s story.
This is where we really do have to check in with ourselves. The word exchange stands out for me in this definition and sharing stuff both sides are really interested in.
How often do you feel your communication is an exchange or do you find yourself surrounded with people that simply dump information on you then leave?
Perhaps you are the person that dumps information then leaves.
Either way sometimes we have to exchange information that at first both sides are not interested in hearing.
Can you recognise yourself as any of these?
You do all the talking and never stop to listen to the other person.
You often interrupt or talk over the top of someone talking to you
You allow people to talk over you.
You rarely speak up or interrupt someone who is talking, even when you have got something to say.
We are all guilty of not getting it right some of the time here are some great examples:
Nodding to indicate you’re listening all the while keeping one eye on the television.
Sitting together at the dinner table but you’re all on your phones.
Nodding off during your husband’s rendition of the football match.
Saying okay or yes to your boss, then realising after they have left you don’t really understand how you will deliver the request.
You leave a conversation then suddenly realise you have no idea how the other person was feeling.
The list is endless – please feel free to add some more of your own examples in the comments below.
If you imagine a communication channel is like a two way street then you would assume their is enough room for traffic (information) to flow both ways. When in reality if that were happening you would all be speaking at the same time and it would be pretty much as busy and chaotic as a city centre with lots of noise and very little clarity.
Where as for me two way communication channel is more like a traffic light junction where the lights are timed so that everyone gets a chance to speak. Everyone gets the chance to be heard and understood. Some traffic lights are set up so that the traffic light stays green where ever the heaviest traffic flow is coming from (the talkers in this example). So if you want to move (be heard) and you are in a car at one of the other set of lights you have to ensure you move your car (voice) up so that you can physically be seen/heard by the sensor so that the other traffic lights change yours to green and the other person to red.
Ros as many of you know is my business partner and best friend, I am the natural talker and she is a the natural listener. It is never my intention not to listen and often Ros doesn’t have anything to say.
However aware that I want to hear her opinion and I don’t want to assume she has nothing to say we needed a strategy. We have now developed our own unique traffic light system where Ros can signal if she does want to speak and I (almost) instantly stop.
As a result of this initial strategy I am now more likely to pause and ask “Do you have anything to add Ros?” Together we have created a two way street but I am still the one that talks the most because that is me being me. Ros still listens the most because that is Ros being Ros but her views are now never over looked or discounted.
Self Coaching Activity
If you would like to create a two way communication channel with someone that is really important to you right now. This activity will give you some insight and understanding.
When thinking of this person or this team (family or business) communications are like what?
The ‘like what’ question is designed to encourage you to consider a metaphor, don’t worry if you can’t come up with one straight away. Simply become curious over the next day or two and notice what is happening.
Understanding what is happening now through the articulation of a metaphor can give you the clarity you need to improve or enhance communications with those that matter to your success and happiness. You can also gain the same clarity if you simply acknowledge the process with or without a metaphor.
If it is working well then investing time to understand what is happening when it works using these clean language questions can help you transfer this skill to other relationships.
What kind of (insert a word or metaphor here from your initial response)… is that …(insert the same word or metaphor here)?
Is there anything else about ……..(insert a word or metaphor here from your initial response)?
Where is (insert a word or metaphor here from your initial response)?
If you end up with a metaphor that describes something that is not working for you then you can ask yourself the question:
When it is like that what would I like to have happen?
Focus on what you want and then explore when it is like that’s like what?
Again creating a metaphor can help you understand it easier and it can be easier to explain to others. Please do share your thoughts below.
It is always a bit weird writing a blog and never knowing if anyone reads them so your comments would that I am writing something that is of interest to others and helpful. My turn to listen now over to you.
Sheryl Andrews Communication Coach
To find out more about the history of clean language and how these questions can be used to resource you to manage yourself time and others more effectively please request your copy of our free self coaching E-Workbook “Success without Stress in 8 Simple Steps”
Thank you for listening.