At the beginning of every year, I take the time to reflect on the past year and create a plan for the next. In reflecting on 2023, I discovered that the root cause of many of my challenges, both personal and business, was a lack of effective communication. For example, I have been known to identify a celebratory moment as an opportunity to critique, so staff know they could be even better.
Knowing that having different life experiences, personalities, upbringings, and goals have direct effects on how we communicate and our preferred methods of communication has been eye-opening for me.
Why does effective communication matter in the workplace? Research shows poor communication impedes efficiency, productivity, and revenue, and it inflicts workplace stress and employee attrition, according to “The State of Business Communication 2023” report, issued by Grammarly Business and the Harris Poll.
On the other hand, effective communication may increase a team’s productivity by as much as 25%, according to Pumble, a company that makes available a messaging app for teams.
Given my discovery about myself and these statistics, my next thought was “how can I improve my communication skills?” This month’s column reveals what I found.
It is important to begin by making a commitment. We all know and love the Golden rule, however in communication think “The Platinum Rule: Do Unto Others as They’d Like Done Unto Them,” as stated by Tony Alessandra in his book “The Platinum Rule.”
To follow the platinum rule, we need to get to know the people we want to communicate with effectively. (More on this in a future column.)
Setting clear expectations
Effective communication occurs when the person receiving our transmission is aware of our expectations and intent and can respond appropriately, according to Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram in their new book “The Communication Code: Unlocking Every Relationship, One Conversation at a Time.” It turns out effective communication is a two-way street.
According to the authors, five code words describe categories of communication. When we utilize each category of communication at the right time, we can continuously achieve effective communication and prevent misunderstanding.
These code words (categories) are:
There are a few ways to determine the right time for each. First, we can ask, “What form of communication resonates the most with you?” And we can invite our team members to ask us the same question. Second, before initiating a conversation at a team meeting, we can describe what we expect from the conversation. For example, “What would you like to celebrate today?” Then as the meeting moves into “collaboration,” we can state that move to be certain the team knows that is the intent. Already I have found that when utilizing these code words, effective communication becomes more commonplace.
Making a commitment
If ineffective communication is something you and your team are also experiencing, join me in learning more about effective communication and implementing these learnings at home and work. I have a feeling our personal and business lives will all be better for it. Here’s to 2024! OM