The Secret To Improving Communication
Shockingly, humans in the workplace do not exist in a void. We are impacted every day by the sum total of our human experience and our past. These life experiences and worldview, in turn, impact the way we communicate. Communication is a critical part of running a business effectively.
Recent studies show that 86% of CEOs and employees believe poor communication is the leading cause of workplace failure. The same study found that improved communication leads to an increase of up to 25% in productivity.
So how can you improve your communication?
In today’s blog, we’re going to outline a scenario that shows the depth of how we communicate with one another - and the secret to improving your communication.
The CEO of a budding business with big projects in the works was upset with an independent contractor, who specialized in helping businesses run more effectively. The CEO spoke to a third party, who served as an intermediary, about the problems. She expressed that the contractor was not very present or serving her needs. There was little to no communication, which left her feeling like the projects were not being worked on. The conversation quickly turned aggressive, anxious, and reactionary.
What Was The Ultimate Problem?
This “simply” comes down to a communication problem: the CEO wanted more communication. But what does more communication look like in this situation? What communication would have been acceptable? How should the independent contractor react to the accusations? Should they continue to work together? Can their relationship still be effective?
This encounter is what we would refer to as a crucial conversation, which is a conversation where emotions and stakes are high.
When we engage in these types of interactions, we have to determine why they became emotional. Where is the person coming from? What life experiences are at play behind the scenes? Has this reaction inflated their feelings and response? Are they becoming reactionary and anxious?
Thus, the answer is much deeper than communicating more: we have to communicate correctly and effectively for the situation and person.
How Would We Improve Communication?
The first thing we would do in this situation is ensure the intermediary is receiving the information correctly. This involves not taking sides, but affirming that they hear them and will speak to the other party. When the intermediary speaks to the other party, they must do so in a respectful and kind manner - not being accusatory.
From there, we want to acknowledge how every person in the situation is interacting with one another. What is surfacing? Are they responding or reacting? What are their skill sets and how is that impacting their perception?
We use some tools to answer these questions and help us align the way we communicate: The Drama Triangle and The Empowerment Dynamic (TED).
The Drama Triangle And The Empowerment Dynamic
Both of these dynamics can be seen at work in a crucial conversation. When we let our emotions run these encounters, it is easy to slip into the toxic Drama Triangle, which has three roles: the persecutor, victim, and rescuer.
The persecutor is the villain of the situation. They tend to be oppressive, controlling, critical, and superior. They blame other people for problems and do not take accountability.
The victim falls into an immediate woeful attitude when confronted. They are the hopeless and powerless underdog who never seems to get a step ahead in life. A victim seeks others to help them get out of the situation and failure. They refuse to take responsibility for what brought them to that failure.
Lastly, the rescuer is a classic hero, but not in a positive sense. They are an enabler. They often feel guilty if they don’t rescue the victim and need to be needed. Meanwhile, they are avoiding their own problems.
On the other hand, The Empowerment Dynamic mirrors the Drama Triangle but replaces the roles with a more healthy version.
The persecutor becomes the challenger, who is assertive - not aggressive. They are constructive - not critical.
The victim becomes the creator. They learn to be vulnerable and take responsibility and accountability for their actions - not seeking someone to rescue them.
Lastly, the rescuer becomes the coach. They are caring and listening - not an enabler. They are self-aware - not hiding from their own problems.
How Can You Apply The Drama Triangle and TED To Improve Communication?
When entering a crucial conversation, we have to take a moment to center ourselves. What role in the conversation do we play? Are we interacting with others using respect and kindness? Or are we letting traumas impact us and the way we communicate?
If you receive criticism, how do you respond? Do you have an initial gut reaction - and do you heed that reaction? For many people, especially perfectionists, the response to criticism is to run away. Leave the problem behind because it no longer serves you. This is the response of a Drama Triangle victim. This response fails to take accountability for what the criticism is.
It can be easy to react this way, especially if the criticism is brought by a persecutor instead of a challenger.
But we can only truly manage ourselves and our reactions.
Just because someone else is choosing to let their emotions run their decisions does not mean we have to. We can choose to take accountability and responsibility for our actions. We can choose to process criticism we receive, remove the emotion from it, and take out what is unnecessary, so we are getting to the root of the problem.
In the situation we described, that is exactly what we would recommend for the independent contractor to do. Instead of abandoning the situation, like they might want to, the intermediary can serve as a coach and encourage them to view the situation as a creator.
Together, they can return to the CEO with improved communication and solutions. In the continuing relationship, everyone will understand the lens through which the others are communicating. They can release what is not fitting and have grace for one another.
What Is The Ultimate Takeaway?
Communication is more than frequently talking about what is happening and giving updates. Everyone communicates in different ways - and for different reasons. We respond and react to situations, conversations, and accusations based on the sum total of our human experience.
To improve our communication, we need to understand why we are reacting the way we are and why we feel the need to communicate in a certain way. Furthermore, we need to understand why others communicate in a certain way, how to separate ourselves from their poor communication, and meet them in a way that benefits both parties.
What Steps Should You Take To Improve Communication?
First things first, you should be proud of yourself for recognizing the value of communication. It is an imperative skill to a business.
Next, talk to a workforce communication expert. These are people who specialize in seeing how communication is failing the workplace - and how that is impacting the rest of the organization. They go further to help fix the situation and optimize the business.
The good news is that you are in the right place. Our team specializes in growing your business, optimizing your operations, and improving communication. Growing your business through improved communications is within your grasp - it just takes the right set of eyes and skill sets. If you are ready for more productivity, higher efficiency, and a happier team through improved communication, let’s talk. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
That’s all we have time for in today’s blog, “The Secret To Improving Communication”.
If you are truly ready to invest in your business and improving communication, the right advice is priceless. Contact us today and we can go from there.
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