Recently at work I’ve seen colleagues struggling with inter-team communications and the consequences that follow. I consider myself a clear communicator most times, I am able to deliver my point and get the needed outcomes from the conversation – yet find I myself at times being frustrated when my messages are not coming through. Therefore, I felt the urges to write this article to share what I believe to be the secrets behind any genuine & fruitful conversation – be it at work or off duty.
What we know is in our head, and at most times, everyone of us is thinking of a different thing in our head at one point of time. So at the start of any fruitful discussion, everyone has to be in the same context. Take your time in the first 5-10 min to introduce and explain the situation, even though your think your audience already know (you’d be surprise).
I do this even for the smallest request, or even over a message, so that the other understand and give me the answer I’m seeking for.
2. Perspective thinking
Try to be in the other person’s situation, imagine yourself to be in their shoes to understand their argument.
If you are unclear about it, ask them for it. They will be more than happy to explain.
3. Listen to understand
The more important the conversation is, the more we need to practice this. We like to rush it – rush to answer and to respond. But let’s take our time listening to the other party. One of my trick is, when i felt impatient listening to someone, I pick up my pen and start jotting down their points, this help me calm myself and does not miss any information. Then address all at once.
If you think they are taking too long, just simply ask to stop so we can discuss a few points first, before carry on to the next discussion.
4. Ask genuine questions
You might ask me – what do you mean by genuine questions? Genuine questions means you ask because you do not understand, not for tricking them into a certain pattern of answers. For me it’s like a hiccup, it’s harmless, just annoying and distracting. It will also trigger my defense mechanism because I know I’m being led onto a planned situation. So try not to do this and be mindful with your words when it comes to questions. Here’s an example:
“Do you think you will make any differences with your proposal?” – Assumptive, I-know-better-tone.
“What impacts will your proposal make on our current project?” – Genuine, polite & seeking for opinion.
5. Have a goal in mind
Especially when it comes to professional conversation, don’t come clueless (If you are really clueless, say it upfront, and seek for advise). Before calling for any meeting or discussion, list down what you need to discuss and the goal of it. It would be great if you can send it out advance, so the others are well-prepared too.
I learnt that if we want to achieve our goal, we come prepared as if we’ve already got it.
6. Be Specific
Fruitful discussions are always SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). But here I want to press on their first one – Specific. Try not to make assumptive statements or vague arguments. Let me take an example:
“A is having a bad attitude at work” – is assumptive
“A is refusing to support on his task I gave him last Monday, I’ve followed up twice but it is still pending” – is specific and neutral, this way you are giving a specific problem that your audience will prone to find solution, which will lay a better foundation for the discussion.
“We will run ads for this campaign to achieve our goals” – is vague
“We will run ads on Google Network Audience for 2 weeks, at a budget of $1000 and try to achieve a goal of 100 conversions” – is specific and clear, this way you will not leave your audience with so much questions on your statement. And to be able to do this, you must come prepared.
7. Be consistent
We might not remember what we said today, but people do. And if the things we communicate aren’t consistent, it will be tough for the others to achieve what we want them to achieve. Consistency is also a guide for team work, we need to know where we are heading to and we need to be sure tomorrow we will still be working on the same thing. Without it, team morale will be low.
In any case you need to U-turn yourself (my informally way of changing your mind/statement), make sure you give the signal – Repeat what you said before and correct yourself, give reasons for such change and do it confidently 😉
8. Harness your emotion
This is probably the hardest to master, but it is very rewarding, you’ll earn more respect. And it is especially crucial if you are at HOD or C-level because your team will look up to you and mirror your behaviours. Here’s some tips that I hope will help you:
Whenever I felt an overwhelmed emotion, I take a long deep breath and ask myself 3 questions before I have any further actions:
– “What is this emotion that I am having?” Be it, angry, sad, disappointed, etc. You need to acknowledge my feelings and be aware of it.
– “Why am I feeling such way?” – Give an honest answer, be honest to yourself on the real reason.
– “What can I do to not feeling like this again?” – Think of solution, rather than excuses or blame. Take at least a few mins to think about it, don’t rush it.
Once you can master the technique, you will appear more professional when approaching an sensitive/emotional conversation, hence your inputs will be more respected.
Let me know what you think about this article, please share with me your tips when it comes to effective communication, I’d love to hear them out. Comment below I will surely reply you 🙂
Onwards and Upwards,