One of the commonest road blocks to developing effective working relationships is the assumption that other people view the world in the same way that we do and that our communication styles are all the same.
To achieve operational excellence, we need to be confident and effective communicators in a dynamic work environment. The first step in becoming more effective communicators is to become self-reflective and more aware of their communication styles, especially when they are under pressure.
To increase people’s self-awareness, it is important to understand what is influencing their current communication style. How has age, gender, cultural background, educational status, and their current role within the company influenced their communication style? This awareness provides insight and knowledge and a base from which to move forward.
When people are under pressure, it is easy to default to an attitude of “win at all costs”. Alternatively, people default to avoidance as they don’t like dealing with conflict, or they are worried about upsetting others. When people avoid the difficult conversations and don’t speak up – this creates division, unhealthy thinking, and behaviours in the workplace. This sabotages the individual’s self-esteem and the team’s effectiveness.
Non-verbal communication is a large part of the communication process and effective communicators need to be aware of being congruent in both their non-verbal communication and their verbal communication. Some simple techniques with our voice and hands can enhance our confidence, credibility and our ability to build rapport.
Assertiveness is about working towards a win/win outcome. It is based on honest and authentic communication and requires listening to ourselves and others to gain a deeper understanding of what is really being said.
Each individual has their own understanding and expectations with regards to how they and others should behave and communicate. When a team has a clear understanding of why assertive communication is important and how to communicate assertively, there will be increased confidence and honesty within the team which in turn increases cohesion and connectedness and communication clarity.
To achieve positive outcomes and enhance operational excellence, people need to focus on three elements:
- Self-awareness and reflection on the different communication styles – including a greater understanding oftheir current default communication style and the impact it can have.
- How to use voice and gestures to enhance communication and build credibility and approachability to create positive outcomes.
- How to use this information to change your own patterns of communication.