Stop Making These Communication Mistakes
And six ways to fix those mistakes.
Communication can be tough. It’s often hard to communicate important or difficult messages in a way that achieves the desired result.
Leaders often inadvertently use communication that scares people off, turns them off, or pisses them off.
Don’t let this be you!
Are you making any of these common communication mistakes?
Overusing fear as a motivator—A small amount of fear is actually a helpful edge to have, such as the natural fear of the consequences of not meeting a goal or deadline. But leaders sometimes make the mistake of using too much fear, which causes people to freeze up, and can even cause apathy or despair.
Focusing overly on failures—When a leader talks about current or past failures, this almost invariably starts the blame game. When everybody is pointing fingers, communication is stifled because people fear the finger will be pointed at them.
Talking only about what matters to you—When leaders talk only about their concerns, for example market share or stock prices, and not about the things that matter to their people, they see that you don’t care about them.
Using too much corporate jargon—When you use too much corporate speak, you alienate your listeners because it doesn’t have as much meaning to them. This type of communication often seems inauthentic.
Doing it all digitally—Digital communication is a necessity in the modern workplace, but doing all of your communication this way eliminates personal connection, which makes your message less relevant and easier to ignore.
Compelling communication is important and ultimately effective! When leaders focus on moving the hearts and the minds of their teams, they will see amazing results. One of the hardest parts of compelling communication is finding authentic reasons that your audience should care. It takes some thought!
Here are six ways to improve your communication:
Focus on a common goal—Find something that both you and the audience care about. This part takes some real work. In fact, it may take conversations with people in advance to help you frame the common goal so that it appeals to everyone involved.
Build on successes—This communication strategy builds confidence with people by reminding them of past successes that can help them accomplish the task ahead. It also reminds people of the practices, attitudes and ideas that you want to see them use again.
Define what’s in it for them—You need to find out how what you’re trying to convey will be useful to the people you’re talking to. It’s okay to draw parallels to some of your own goals, but only mention them after you’ve laid the groundwork for why your audience should care.
Stay positive and give hope—Communication should focus mostly on what you are trying to accomplish. It’s okay to mention the challenges and obstacles, but not in a way that makes the entire message about fear. Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Leadership is about telling people where to go and giving them hope that they can get there.”
Use their language—You will be much more successful as a communicator if you relate to your audience on their terms and in their words. Audiences respond to messages that feel tailored to them and that meet them where they are at.
Be there in person—By far the most effective way to communicate important messages is in person. This isn’t always possible; in these cases, a medium such as video is a great option so that your audience can see your facial expressions and read your body language.
One of the most important aspects of compelling communication is that it takes you from the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule: Focusing on what your audience needs instead of centering on what you want. And isn’t that where we all want to be anyway?
Chief Energizing Officer at matchbox group (link to http://matchboxgroup.com), Bob Faw is an author, keynote speaker, and positive change consultant. He specializes in motivation and leadership development.
Humanize Your Virtual Teams
It’s spring, which means commencements and the accompanying speeches delivered by people with varying degrees of fame. One that received less press was given by Arnold Schwarzenegger at the University of Houston, where he said: “The self-made man or women is a myth”. He went on to say “Now, on your diplomas, there will be only one name on it and this is yours. But I hope that…you don’t think you made it this far by yourself. No you didn’t. It took a lot of help. None of us can make it alone. None of us.”
This is an important message to graduates entering the workforce, as they will need to rely on other people to succeed. It is also a reminder to those who already have many years of experience, and know the trials and tribulations of teamwork. Research by Alex “Sandy” Pentland found that the most important predictor of a team’s success is its communication patterns. These patterns are as significant as all other factors – intelligence, personality, and talent – combined.
At Bridging Distance, we found similar themes in our work. Our research shows that advanced communication dynamics in virtual teams significantly improved their ability to work well together and produce results faster. This is evident in successful virtual teams. By helping build explicit processes and critical skills, members stay energized and engaged in their work together. These processes center on getting the right information to the right people at the right time, via the right technology; it means expectations for posting documents and messages in a repository. This allows each team member to find what they need when they need it, without searching cluttered inboxes at a later date. It also means defining what types of situations are more urgent, and require a more immediate response. Posting updates and status allows communication dynamics to be dialog about the significance of information. These interactions tend to more interesting, and therefore more engaging to team members. It means the right people attend meetings, while those who only need to have updates can confidently and respectfully spend their time elsewhere.
Our research also shows that people with excellent digital communication habits are significantly happier in their jobs, therefore more productive. Managing digital interruptions is key; balancing responding to others versus staying present in the moment means you can be fully attentive to your current activity. Being curious about the environment of others paves the way to learning what you don’t know. Teaching leaders how to foster rapport across Distance enables them to motivate Millennials, communicate with a multicultural team, and respond quickly to change.
Technology dehumanizes relationships; companies would be well served by focusing on re-humanizing them.
Stefanie Heiter is a partner with Bridging Distance, which uses behavioral-based solutions to help companies manage existing or anticipated distance complexities that impact employee performance.
Add Your Voice to Our Blog
The CMATD Blog is a great way to share knowledge, insights, best practices and lessons learned around workplace learning and development. CMATD members and sponsors are invited to contribute as guest authors.
Guest articles will be featured on the CMATD Blog and in our email newsletter, which is sent to more than 700 subscribers. Articles should focus on issues of interest to learning and development professionals, with a goal of contributing to our community of practitioners and generating dialog, reflection and new ways of thinking.
Guest articles should:
· Focus on topics of interest to learning and development professionals
· Share knowledge, insights, best practices and lessons learned around workplace learning and development
· Not promote an individual or company
· Be 300-500 words in length
Articles will be published at the discretion of the CMATD Board. Accepted articles will be published on the CMATD website and featured in the email newsletter. The author name and affiliation will be included in published articles.
To propose an article or learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
By David Hofstetter
Past President, Director of Membership, CMATD
Management Coach, Consultant, Trainer, and Speaker—The Hofstetter Group
It’s hard to believe that we have another regional conference in the books. Each year this conference gets better and better. This year was no exception. If you were there, thank you. If you missed it, here is what you missed.
This year’s conference theme was DisrupTD. The theme came from the thought that the workplace is changing at light speed and so is talent development. As learning and development professionals, we need to deliver results despite the disruptive changes happening around us. The 2017 New England Area Conference wanted to offer opportunities to gain knowledge, strategies and solutions needed to effectively meet these new challenges.
We began with our morning keynote: Donald H Taylor, who is Chairman of the Board, The Learning & Performance Institute. Donald’s topic was “Learning Technologies in the Workplace.” We then held the concurrent sessions and ended our day with our afternoon keynote speaker Jeanne Meister, the author of “The Future Workplace Experience.”
We would also like to thank Clark University School of Professional Studies for sponsoring this year’s conference.
By the Numbers