Many conversations I’ve had this week about challenges that my business and executive coaching clients are facing are a result of the same problem – ineffective communication.
Family relationships that are under strain… ineffective communication! A team that is not meeting the CEO’s expectations… ineffective communication! “Them and us” silos that are destroying the culture of the business… ineffective communication! Suppliers that drop the ball… ineffective communication! Unexpectedly losing a client… ineffective communication!
Communication is the key to every successful relationship. Your marriage, your relationship with your kids or siblings. Or your business relationships with superiors, subordinates, investors, clients or suppliers. In the absence of effective communication, uncertainty, ambiguity, assumptions, misinterpretations and resentment fester.
It is often not what you communicate, but the way you communicate. Communication is the response you get. If you are not getting the desired response from your communication with your personal and business partners, perhaps you need to take a long hard look at yourself and the way you communicate.
For some, the problem is a lack of communication. If you don’t verbalise your thoughts, you can’t expect people to read your mind and respond appropriately.
On the other end of communication is listening. Communication fails when all the parties focus on talking instead of listening. And more than listening, it is about truly “hearing” what the other party is saying.
So what do you need to communicate and hear?
Objectives and goals
In every relationship, there is a common goal. A long-lasting marriage, delivery of a product or service, assistance with operational tasks, etc. When both parties are working towards a common objective, it is important to verbalise and talk about the goal. Dream together, work together, talk about what you want to achieve. Nothing builds resentment and apathy more than communicating on a “need to know basis”. Bring the team into the fold so they become part of the solution. Communicating objectives and goals forms strong bonds and ensures that you are on the same path.
It is very difficult to meet expectations if you don’t know what they are. When expectations are verbalised, discussed, understood and agreed, there is no room for misinterpretation. While your spouse may take exception to documenting expectations, in business, documented Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) eliminates doubt. KPIs need to include results-based performance as well as behaviours, attitudes and ethics.
Resentment in relationships – both business and personal – can almost always be avoided if you discuss feelings as they arise. Don’t be fooled into thinking there is no place for feelings in business. People conduct business. People have feelings, and you can’t disregard them. All too often a string of small incidents build up until they blow up. Managing small and petty annoyances is much easier than massive conflict and can often be resolved quite quickly as the other party will often not realise that certain behaviour is having a negative effect on those around them.
Constructive criticism is when you deliver negative feedback in a positive way. This is one of the major challenges in communication that few people get right. However, if you approach the conversation with the objective of helping the person grow and improve, the message is more likely to be delivered positively.
The best way to build solid relationships is to compliment and praise desired behaviour and performance. Often praise-worthy behaviour is taken for granted, and is seen as the norm or the standard. But without affirmation and recognition, there is no incentive to maintain these standards. Linked to praise is gratitude. A simple please, thank you and a heartfelt appreciation of a job well done or a great attitude can go a long way towards building successful relationships.
If ineffective communication within your business is holding you back, give me a call… I’ll hear you!