A study done at Stanford University found that nine out of ten conversations miss their mark. In other words, 90% of the time, the thing that a person is trying to communicate to another person gets muddled in translation. And that “thing” could be a piece of information, a command, or an attitude. If you’re a manager, it’s vital to know how well you’re communicating with your team. It’s also important to understand that you’re probably not communicating as well as you think you are.
Everyone hopes that the people around them understand their point of view and attitude, but if you’re a manager, hoping isn’t enough. If you’re not communicating effectively with your team, the impacts could be far ranging. Your poor communication might hurt morale, lead to delays in projects, contribute to office bickering or gossip, or even cause a lawsuit.
So what can you do? First, you should get an unbiased assessment of your communication skills. To do so, you can ask for anonymous feedback about your performance, however, if this isn’t done in the proper manner, it can backfire, negatively impacting trust and ultimately, your on-going communication. Or you can go through a suite of personal assessments to gain insight into how your communication might be impacting others. Or lastly, you can gather feedback through an effective 360° tool that allows for proper anonymity, confidentiality and meaningful feedback.
Once you have a solid understanding of your communication strengths and weaknesses, you can take active steps to improve your conversational agility. Conversational agility is a leadership skill, just like delegating or scheduling that can be developed by adopting many key principles from Conversational Intelligence™. Some people will be naturally better at it than others, but everyone can improve by learning about the key principles of communication and putting some new ideas into practice.
Not matter what you choose to do, improving workplace conversations is an active choice that requires practice. You can’t simply read an article about better communication and expect results. You need to take time every day to practice good habits. For example, you might set up systems that give your employees the chance to share their ideas with you on a regular basis, like a dedicated message board or a weekly meeting. You might also make a point of thanking one of your team members for their hard work every day. You could (and should) actually write down their names and check them off as you make your way through the list.
Remember, practice makes better! (There’s no such thing as perfect, but there’s always better.)