Archive for Communication Articles

Misunderstandings in the Workplace – An Invitation for Conversation

What is it about communication in the workplace that invites challenge instead of cooperation? Is it ego, fear, ignorance, culture or human nature? I can hear you checking off all of those factors and maybe adding a few of your own. But the question remains… what can you do about decreasing misunderstandings at work?

Short of listing all the potential dreaded conversation scenarios and a list of possible come-backs, I’d like to invite you to explore another approach: An “Invitation to Conversation.”

The “Invitation to Conversation” is both a formula and a mindset. The approach is to look at a conversation as an invitation to join in and share an experience. If I invite you to an event, a party or out on a date you might picture a ceremony, festivities or a romantic evening. You also have the option to accept or decline my invitation. Either way, I expect a response.

If you apply this to business and you decline my invitation you have agreed to disagree. If you accept, you agree to engage in a conversation. Of course, if I don’t hear back that sets off another round of miscommunications. Unfortunately, this is all too common both in business and life.

The invitation also comes with the notion that there will be an exchange of some kind. If I invite you to a birthday party and upon your arrival I hand you a bowl, an apron, and cake-mix you may get a slice of cake in the end, but I suspect that making the birthday cake was not what you had in mind. My thoughts did not translate into your thoughts.

And that is the objective for many workplace conversations-to get me thinking the same way that you do. When you fail to confirm that your message has been interpreted the way you intended that’s the start of another communication miscue. You must take the time to ensure you have conveyed your thoughts in the best way possible and that I have interpreted them the way you intended.

The formula for the “invitation” looks like this:

Intention: What outcome do you want as a result of your message? Be honest here–otherwise everything is built on falsehood.
Information: This is your message. The actual words you speak and the way you convey them.
Interpretation: How your listener deciphers the message. It might not be the way you intended. Check first.
Interaction: This is the key component-engaging to confirm the interpretation. Did they understand as I intended?
Integration: The intended result, change, or behavior is understood, implemented and assimilated.

And this process needs to be in-time, otherwise it’s like receiving the invitation after the event. What’s the point? Use the invitation to change the way you think about engaging with others-think guest not competitor. And use the formula as a simple way to keep on track and ensure that you have been heard correctly.

This technique plus dozens more can be found in my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Pick up a copy today.

Workplace Communication—7 Steps to Turn Resistance into Cooperation and Gain Respect

Employee resistance to change in the workplace is nothing new. Leaders and managers accept the pushback that comes when rolling out new procedures, changes in operations, shifts in hours, status, or even the loss of a prime parking space. How you deal with resistance makes the difference between gaining cooperation and respect and being viewed as an uninvolved, autocratic administrator.

Whether the resistance comes from a single dissenter or an entire department, use the following steps to gain cooperation:

Step1. Clearly state what you want, when you want it and how it will affect individual jobs. Use a firm but neutral or positive tone of voice. Refrain from conveying disappointment, anger or defeat. Your particular situation or location will dictate the appropriate vocal expression.

Step2. Decide beforehand how much time you will allot to objections, groaning and griping. Inform the person or team you are addressing about the time limit. Let them vent.

Step 3. Listen to understand concerns. What underlying emotions are behind the complaints? What are the real fears behind the protests? Often the real fears will not be voiced in the initial session and until further questioning your understanding may be based on false assumptions.

Step 4. Check your perceptions by reflecting back your understanding of the concerns. Do not allow another round of protests, rather simply check for confirmation.

Step 5. If appropriate, ask for suggestions. Not every circumstance will allow for this but to the degree that employees feel engaged in the process the quicker the cooperation. Once again, do not allow suggestions to go on forever and keep the conversation on suggestions only—not grousing. Be involved. Listen and list possibilities without judging. Put it all down. Be open to viable proposals.

Step 6. Suggest a review or an opportunity to revisit the impact of the change after a test run or implementation. This is a good practice to put into place whenever a new procedure or shift has taken place, regardless of the initial response. Small changes made at this re-visit may prevent a complete breakdown if left unchecked. This is also an excellent opportunity to increase face-time, engage employees and learn something new.

Step 7. If these steps fail, explain the costs of noncooperation. Change is what makes an organization stay competitive, robust and profitable. Dissenters may be in the wrong position or job so act accordingly.

Cooperation comes when people know and feel they are part of something bigger. Employees know that changes occur but welcome the opportunity to influence the outcome and success. However, just because you communicate openly and involve employees by asking for suggestions, does not mean they make the final decision. Be a leader—listen, learn and them implement.

Now get your FREE 6-Part Audio Series – The Power of Effective Communication.  For more tips like the ones above pick up a copy of my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. People love the insights and easy to apply techniques.

Body Language – 10 Tips for Reading People and Interpreting Gestures

by Lynda Goldman

Reading people and their body language can give you great insights into their true feeling.

We use our head, arms, hands, shoulders and even legs and feet to make gestures, and emphasize what we are saying, but the majority of gestures are made with the hands and arms. Here are some things to look for, to help you interpret body language and gestures.

1. Nodding or tilting the head to the side shows interest, active listening, and concern.

2. A head held up indicates confidence, but if it is held too high, it can indicate aloofness or a patronizing attitude – looking down your nose at someone.

3. Shrugging the shoulders with a palms-up gesture indicates that the person doesn’t know or care, or is bored or uninterested.

4. People sometimes reveal their real feelings through body language that contradicts their words. For example, if someone says he agrees with you, but his head moves slightly from side to side, he is really signaling disagreement. He may be showing his real feelings, but not want to be bothered arguing with you.

5. Some people pick lint from their clothing. Whether this is conscious or unconscious, it can indicate that they disagree with you, but can’t be bothered to argue.

6. Nervousness often shows in your hands. People who are anxious may rub or wring their hands together, or clasp and unclasp them.

7. When we aren’t comfortable with our hands, we hide them in our pockets or behind our backs. Hands in the pocket convey a hidden agenda or secretiveness.

8. An open palm suggests honest and sincerity. A closed fist can be considered menacing.

9. Hands on the hips can be seen as defiant.

10. The fig leaf position, with your hands clasped together over your crotch, or folded tightly over your chest (the female fig leaf) can make you seem aloof or defensive.

Do you know the biggest business image mistakes? Find out with these free reports:

7 Business Casual Crimes and How to Solve Them, and 13 Foods that Can Sabotage a Business Meal, when you sign up for my Communication Capsules Ezine at: http://www.Impressforsuccess.com/signup.html

From Lynda Goldman, author of 30 books including How to Make a Million Dollar First Impression

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lynda_Goldman
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Internal Communication – Workplace Magic or Myth?

Key Communication Tip – Practice Extreme Listening!

Communicating at Work for Better Results

Communicating at the Office Party

Communicating from the Heart

Tis the season to be communicating from the heart…of course, that should be every season but for the purposes of this post we’ll let that go.  It  does seem though that despite the prevalence of holiday blues, the continuing economic challenges blah, blah…that people do seem to want to spread some joy in December.

I’m guessing that’s simply a craving to find the proverbial shinning star in the cloudy sky. Really there’s nothing wrong with that…in fact, I applaud it. So go ahead say something, do something, write something to someone…from the heart. December is a great excuse, if you need an excuse, to be a little kinder.  Communicate with joy this month.

Thank you readers, I appreciate your stopping by. Send smiles. Enjoy December!

Communicating at Work – 5 Reasons Why You are a Poor Listener and What You Can Do About It

I’m going to suggest that most people are poor (or at best, fair) listeners. If you don’t believe you are a poor listener than consider the list below and might walk away with a different belief. In fact, you might wonder how anyone manages to listen without misunderstanding considering all the hoops we put messages through.

Most people listen from their point-of-view or autobiographically while only a small percentage listen with true empathy. Listening from the speaker’s standpoint takes energy, awareness and understanding. It strikes me as a bit like acting. You need to portray a character but you can’t help bring yourself to the role.

Consider the filters that “color” your listening and decide for yourself whether or not your listening skills could use a little help.

1. Education Level: I bet I have your attention already. Too little education in the eyes of the listener and the incoming communication might run through the “I’m not smart enough “or” they think they are better” filter. Reverse the situation and the thoughts and you can see how much education level affects all listeners.

2. Culture: Ethnicity, customs and traditions are filters that are addressed a bit more openly, as suggested by the popularity of diversity training. Visual components that indicate or suggest a different culture may help the aware listener. He or she could use the clues as a reminder to consider how the speaker’s background might support their viewpoint. Conversely, the unaware listener uses the differences to support their own opinion.

3. Economic Background: The “I worked for everything” listener might use this filter to avoid believing the more “economically advantaged” speaker. Just as the other “message sifters” mentioned, economic background can be a barrier to empathic listening no matter which side of the economic coin you were born on. The film “Slumdog Millionaire” comes to mind as a great example of prejudicial listening.

4. Family Messages: Was your family open and demonstrative or indirect and more formal? Did you receive the message that people are generally good or generally evil? What obvious or subliminal messages did you grow up with? Consider how your viewpoint colors your listening. The challenge here is recognizing that other families may not have grown up the same way you did. Remember the first time you had dinner at a friend’s house? Was the dinner conversation lively and encouraged or were controversial topics hush-hush? Think about it.

5. Birth Order: I admit that as the middle child of seven and the first female my mediating qualities were enhanced. Listening to someone who loves conflict and takes the opposing viewpoint just for fun is a challenge for me. How has being the only, first, last or middle child tinted your listening ability?

These are just five of the filters incoming messages go through before we hear a message. I could have included religion, personality and location but the point remains the same—listening from your audience’s perspective takes an acute awareness of your own filters first.

Practice understanding, become knowledgeable and use attentiveness as the tools to becoming a better listener. Misunderstandings will decrease and you might just learn something.

Want more listening tips? First, get FREE instant access to your 6-part audio series on The Power of  Effective Communication by putting your first name and email in the boxes on the upper right. Now pick up a copy of my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up, for dozens more tips you can put to use immediately.

Workplace Communication – Assertive Communication Techniques to Get Your Message Across and Be Heard

Assertive communication techniques that allow you to express yourself clearly while still earning respect take a bit of practice but are well worth the effort. Assertive means without becoming loud, angry or irritated. And, respect is not synonymous with agreement it means with proper concern and courtesy.

Here are 5 assertive communication techniques your can practice to be heard without being misunderstood:

1. Self-disclosure is revealing information about yourself that allows others to respond to you by creating a shared vulnerability. This is particularly difficult for managers and leaders to practice as sharing personal deficiencies no matter how common or insignificant are discouraged.

“I don’t know much about…” is a powerful statement that suggests your willingness to learn is greater than your need to be right.

Using the common feel, felt, found approach can also be effective self-disclosure technique:

“I understand how you feel, I felt that way myself when the company changed hands, but then I found that by listening to their point-of view I realized we had many common values.”

2. Acknowledging without agreeing is another communication skill assertive people practice. This is especially helpful when dealing with a dissenter during a meeting or presentation.

“What an interesting thought…” acknowledges the speaker without encouraging further conversation.

“That might be true and here are my thoughts…” is another option.

3. Calm repetition of the same words is a communication skill that is useful when giving information that might not be well-received.

“My intention is to provide you with the details of the new program…” clearly stated in a firm but calm voice repeatedly until you are acknowledged and given the platform is one possible phrasing.

4.Negative assertion is a bit trickier to use and requires a neutral tone of voice. Occasionally someone may attempt to make you wrong especially regarding principles. You might try this:

“Let me understand, you are saying I’m wrong?” Again, a calm non-accusatory voice is important.

5. When a criticism has been directed at you without explanation, assertively ask for more information while repeating the negative comment.

“What is it about my sales presentation that makes you say it is difficult to follow?

These are just a few communication skills everyone can practice in the workplace to create a more respectful environment while decreasing misunderstandings.

What has worked for you? Leave your thoughts.

And, if you want more tips just like the ones above  pick up a copy of my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. People just love how easy it is to apply.