Tag Archive for workplace communication

Communicating at Work – Managing Unmet Expectations

A common complaint from managers revolves around unmet expectations from direct reports and team leaders.  Whether we are talking about missed deadlines, missed goals or missed opportunities communication is always at the heart of the problem.

Let’s take a look at just one root cause  of unmet expectations and a solution.

Problem: Systems and  tools don’t function as needed and departments don’t work well together.

Solution:
1.  Provide the needed tools to do the job
–including software, hardware, human resources, filing and process systems, proper forms, paper, etc.  It is difficult to hammer nails without the nails.

2. Smooth the path between departments to eliminate the “I can’t start my part until I receive this information from…” syndrome. Catch issues before they start. Ensure that all departments are coordinated with the same expected outcome.

3.  Grant the authority to do the job. Often an issue between departments occurs when one department is expected to perform  but has no authority to make decisions that directly affect their ability to do so. Design is often driven by manufacturing , which is driven by operating goals. If operating goals are best met by producing out-of -date products (sounds crazy, but it happens a lot), then design can not create what the market is asking for and sales people can’t meet their goals. Don’t expect a quick fix. All departments need to understand their role in profitability and growth.

Want more information about root causes and solutions? You’ll find it on pages 113 – 115 of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up.
Get your copy at Amazon.com and don’t forget to pick up your FREE Bonuses.

Leave me your story of unmet expectations.

Communication Styles at Work–More Productivity with Less Misunderstanding

Learning to connect with all the communication styles in your workplace is the key to increased productivity.

Now I know you aren’t going to get along with everyone at every moment  and really, that’s a good thing.  Why? Because healthy conflict produces pearls (ask any clam!)

But let’s talk about those communication styles for a moment.  If you are familiar at all with communication styles then you have probably heard the them referred to as: Directors or Controllers, Amiables or Relators, Thinkers or Analyticals and Expressives or Sociables.

Even if you aren’t familiar the points below apply to everyone you interact with daily:

  • Respect the theme or driving principle for each style. Do they prefer to do things their way and quickly? Do they focus on accuracy at all costs? Do they prefer consensus before taking action? Or do they favor fun while getting things done? Go along with their theme while keeping your integrity intact.

  • Shift your style of communicating to meet theirs if you want to be heard. Bring your energy level up or tone it down and add detail or give the big picture depending on the style you’re communication with to increase your rapport.

  • To request action, to gather information communicate to each style’s preferred approach to work. Do they need the bottom line only or every last detail? Do they need cooperation and flexibility or do they want enough information to make a decision – not too much, not too little?

Support each style in the way they prefer saves you time, prevents misunderstandings and cultivates a cooperative workplace. Leave me your thoughts–what do you do to get along with others?

You can learn more about communication groups in my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Get it at Amazon.com. If you don’t need it get it as a gift for someone that can benefit from the message.

Improve Communication at Work – How to Agree to Disagree

Sounds a little crazy I know, but knowing how to walk away from a contentious situation while still being able to agree is a necessary communication skill in business.

What exactly do I mean? Well, if you find yourself in a conversation in which you have consciously applied good communication skills including being an active listener and still find you cannot agree on any point, or you simply do not see eye-to-eye, then it just might be time to agree to disagree.

The consequences of taking a stand for yourself and your principles may be far reaching so be sure you know what you are doing. Communicating your opposing view while maintaining your composure takes fortitude and conviction.

I had a boss once who calmly walked into my office and simply announced that he (the president) had agreed to disagree with the CEO. Not quite sure what that meant, I gave him a questioning look and asked for an explanation.

Apparently, a major request or change of direction, or a shift in command  resulted in a situation where neither  he nor the CEO were willing to compromise. So they agreed to disagree.

It was civil conversation but the result of agreeing to disagree  meant my boss opted to leave his position. Yet, I have no doubt that he slept well that night. He honored his integrity.

You may find yourself in this position some day and you may not be in the financial position to simply walk away as my boss did.  The situation you are disagreeing with may be more than simply a blow to your ego, it may involve something unethical.

If you can agree to disagree and continue working without interruption then go for it.  But if you find the situation puts you at risk for a lawsuit or worse and you decide to stay ask yourself this–is the cost to your peace-of-mind, to your integrity,  to your family, to your self-worth and your health worth it?

What challenging communication situations have you dealt with at work?

Find more answers to these questions in Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up.  Buy it at Amazon.com

Improve Communication at Work – Stop The Blame Game

Improving communication at work has to do with your willingness to change. And–your willingness to give up blaming others for your situation or lack of success.

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you.  ~ WAYNE DYER

Blame moves nothing forward and the only way to improve communication is to move forward. This means you must take ownership of the fact that you must change. Ouch!

If someone is difficult to listen to, change the way you approach your communication with him or her rather than blaming them for being annoying, unclear, high-pitched, repetitive, or whatever you perceive to be the offending behavior.  Focus on your intention and listen for a single point you both agree and move the conversation from that point.

If you are turned down for a promotion, rather than placing blame on your boss take a hard look at your work, attitude, communication skills and habits and decide what changes you could make to create a different outcome.

If you are still in a job you hate, rather than blame the economy decide what it is you really want and take the steps necessary to get it. You’ll be surprised how this will improve your overall communication.

It’s easy to blame. It takes the pressure and the spotlight off of you but it serves no one.

Just for today serve yourself–stop blaming and start changing.

Find more tips on improving your communication at work, get a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. You can get it today at Amazon.

Are You a Time-Starved Communicator?

Even though we live in an age with more communication tools than ever (Facebook, email, Twitter, texting), we are not necessarily more connected with the people around us.

Many of us yearn to be more connected with our loved ones and friends. In addition, we long for more effective and efficient communication in the workplace. The amount of busyness in a person’s life can hinder their ability to communicate effectively–creating costly misunderstandings.

Here are some tips to help you if you are a time-starved communicator.

1. Make a list of the most important people in your life personally and professionally–and keep your priorities straight! Note which people you would like to connect with on a deeper level.

2. Next to each name make a note about the frequency and type of your currently communications. e.g. Boss: daily email status update and a 15 min. phone meeting once a week.

3. Notice how frequently your communication is face-to-face and how often it is electronic.  (This might an eye opener.)

4.  Now substitute one electronic communication with a face-to-face conversation. Get up and go to your boss with your update. Vow to speak with your kids for ten minutes before bedtime. Give your spouse 215-20 minutes of undivided attention nightly. If face-to-face is not an option then try a phone call over an email.

5. Be intentional about your communication–really consider how you could up level your connection with this person.

Ultimately, increasing your face-to-face communication will actually save you time by avoiding misunderstandings and  help create deeper relationships.

Get more tips on effective communication in my book Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. (works at home too!) Buy it Amazon.com

Communicating with the Characters in Your Workplace

Communicating at work often resembles a sitcom where coworkers are characters and the story is driven by misunderstandings. Every sitcom from I Love Lucy to Seinfeld to Modern Family are great examples of misunderstandings resulting in humor and a tidy ending.

In reality, misunderstanding with the characters (I mean co-workers) you work with often doesn’t end with a happy conclusion. The good news is that your coworkers may be identifiable as the characters in a good story. Once you get to know them, you’ll be able to anticipate a certain amount of predictable behavior.  Think Seinfeld’s Kramer–you always expect his cockamamie logic to some mundane situation.

So how does this help you? Well, learning how to talk these character types (or communication styles) will help you get your point across more effectively so that cooperation and collaboration becomes the norm rather than the exception.

Ask these questions and notice these distinctions and shift your approach, and your chances of getting cooperation increases.

1. What motivates them?

2. What do they seek?

3. What do they fear?

4. What is important to them?

5. How do they behave under stress?

Create a game for yourself and see if you can created a profile of each of the people you work with and for–and then decide how you need to shift your behavior to connect with them.

What’s your experience?

This post is an excerpt from Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up.  Order your copy today and learn more about behavior styles.

Communication Mistakes – Listening or Making Assumptions?

Active and attentive listening is not always easy to do-but it is critical to success.  Poor listeners can damage their reputation and hurt their careers. Today I want to talk a bit about making assumptions vs. really listening.

You might be making assumptions if you answer yes or sometimes to the following questions: Do you frequently finish other people’s sentences? Do you use phrases such as “I already know that” before your have heard a complete sentence?

If you do the message you send is, “I know more than you do, so let me help you out.” This is not only rude (and arrogant) but it will brand you as a know-it-all.

Instead listen patiently, ask clarifying questions, and paraphrase the speaker’s words to ensure you really do comprehend what they are saying and intending. Seek to understand the speaker before making suppositions. This positive behavior will brand you as an excellent communicator.

What do think?

Excerpt from the book Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Pick up your copy at Amazon today.

Communication – Maximize Your Message with Your Voice

Communication is more than just your words. Your voice also adds to the  meaning of your words. The message the sound of your voice sends is so powerful it may override your actual words.

Consider the words, “everything’s okay.” This phrase can mean a variety of things depending on how you say it:

“Everything’s okay.” Reassuring or soothing.

“Everything’s O-KAAY.”  Sarcastic.  As in, ” I told you already!”

“Uh…everything’s uh…okayyyyy.”  Unsure or still checking.

Everything okay? a question.

What makes each statement be perceived differently are the three characteristics of the voice: pitch, volume and quality. Maximizing these will make you a more powerful and confident communicator.

You can learn to control all three voice characteristics. Here are a few tips:

Pitch: How high or low your voice is. Talk in a high pitched voice, as if you are speaking to an infant, and you’ll notice your voice is a bit hollow and thin. This happens because you are speaking from inside your mouth.  Drop to a low voice and you can feel the sound coming from deeper in your throat.  The best pitch for normal conversation is the sound that comes when you breathe fully from abdomen causing your diaphragm to expand.  When you are nervous or fearful your voice may sound high or pinched because you’re breathing from the top of the lungs.  Take a breath.

Volume: This is how loud your voice is. Again, the volume must come from your diaphragm and not your throat. Throat volume sounds like shouting not confidence. If people continuously ask you to speak up you’ll want to increase your volume, otherwise you may notice others ignoring you. You can practice increasing your volume by “pushing” someone across the room by the volume of your voice. Your practice partner can only move backward if  they feel your voice moving them. Try it. You’ll begin to hear what a powerful voice sounds like  even though it may sound too loud at first.

Quality: This is the richness, emotion and meaning your voice sends. Pitch and volume adds to the quality but so does your feelings and overall health.  Notice the difference the quality of your voice has when you’re feeling sad as opposed to when you’re feeling on top of the world. This is why it is so important to smile when you are talking on the phone–people can tell!

Put the sound of your voice to work today!

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of “Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Everything you need for workplace communication at your fingertips. Get it here.

Communicating with Powerful Questions

Asking questions can be one of the best ways to enhance a conversation, but the wrong questions can actually hinder conversation. Not all questions are created equal! Open-ended questions are friendlier and more effective than closed-ended questions. They usually start with “What” or “How”.

Here are some examples of how to change closed-ended questions into open-ended questions:

Instead of “Did you like it?” you could ask, “What did you like about it?” or “How did you like it?”

Ever try to get information from a team member or co-worker and received one or two word answers? Get more specific with the questions above.

Instead of “Are you upset?” you could ask “What’s bothering you?” or “Tell me more about how you are feeling?”

This works at home as well as at work.

Instead of “Would you like to do something else?” or you could ask “What would you like to do?” or “What would just make your day?”

Truly an invitation to share!

Instead of “Any questions?” you could ask “What questions do you have?” or “Who has the first question?”

Commit this one to memory!

Using open-ended questions requires effort. However, the effort is well worth it, especially in a tense situation. The next time you are in a tense conversation, make your questions open-ended, and watch the dynamic change. You will have a much better conversation, and the other person will appreciate your communication skills.


Get your copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up – The bonus downloads are chock full of the critical communication answers you’ve been asking about. Get your book here!

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Misunderstood!: The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up (Volume 1)