Via Forbes : How Empathic And Active Listening Can Improve Workplace Communication
Years ago, I came across a great book written by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish titled How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. They explain how we can get our children to talk by being an empathic listener.
Empathic listening includes reflecting back the emotions we hear. So if a child tells a parent, “I hate my teacher and my school,” then the parent could say, “You sound angry or upset” or reflect back any other emotion that the child is expressing. This will show that the parent understands the child, and it encourages them to share their pain and frustration.
In many organizations I’ve helped, I’ve found that communication, especially active and empathic listening, is a big challenge, particularly when it comes to business owners and high-level leaders, who are often under a lot of pressure and don’t always have the patience or the bandwidth to really listen.
As Stephen Covey wrote in his famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” (Full disclosure: I’m a certified 7 Habits facilitator.) However, as Covey explains, real relationships are created and real solutions are found when people are willing to listen with the intent to understand. This requires us to suspend our judgments or biases long enough to listen, understand and show that we really understand by repeating what we heard — this is what’s known as active listening. Saying things like “So if I understand you correctly” or “Let me repeat what I heard” are effective ways to show you really listened. Or if someone sounds overwhelmed or frustrated, you might say things like “You sound frustrated or overwhelmed” or “Tell me what’s going on.”
Here’s an example of how empathic communication solved a serious management issue: Izzy was the new and quite young CEO of a very old, established organization that was trying to build better relations with its board, senior staff and constituents. He felt that the senior staff wasn’t accepting of him and didn’t appreciate all his efforts to reinvigorate the organization. The yearly fundraiser was a big event, and Izzy put in serious time and effort to raise the necessary funding. The event was successful beyond expectations, and he was awaiting a lot of compliments and kudos for his hard work and great success.
However, he became very discouraged, as he felt that the most senior person and the rest of the team, who did the fundraising before him, were undermining all of his efforts. He complained that they didn’t show him any appreciation and barely acknowledged his accomplishments. They, on their part, felt that Izzy had disregarded their previous contributions when he failed to thank or even mention some key members of the team in his opening address at the dinner.
When I conveyed their complaints back to Izzy, he acknowledged his mistake and made a feeble attempt to rectify it, but it was too little, too late. Their relationships became more acrimonious, and it got to the point that the CEO and the staff members were communicating only by email.
When I asked Izzy whether he’d ever shared his feelings with the team, his answer was: “They’re really not interested in hearing what I have to say. They’re just interested in knocking me to the rest of the staff and to the board.” Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what the team was saying about him.
While the board took responsibility for not clarifying Izzy’s and the team’s responsibilities, that on its own didn’t rectify the problem. After training Izzy and the team in both active and empathic listening, I asked Izzy and the most senior team member to sit down together and really use the listening skill set.
When Izzy said he felt undermined and even hurt, the senior team member was apologetic and sincerely said that it was never his intention to undermine or hurt him. He said he just felt that Izzy wasn’t appreciative of all his previous hard work and that he really wanted to get along.
By communicating empathically with each other and allowing themselves to be vulnerable, they allowed real open and honest communication to ensue. While it didn’t make them best friends, it allowed them to suspend judgment, listen to each other and show understanding, which had a positive impact on both parties. We were then able to create a workable relationship and a plan that was implemented to the satisfaction of both the staff and the board.
Someone once said that “listening is like oxygen to the other person.” It fills them with energy, and it shows that you care. Try it, and let me know how it works.
Some people tell me that they’re afraid that listening will give the message that they agree with the other person. However, when you say “I hear you” or “I understand you,” it doesn’t mean you agree. It just shows that you heard and understood. You can then respectfully disagree. Just remember, while you’re allowed to disagree, you don’t want to become disagreeable.
Via Newstimes : This Technology Can Help Leaders Better Understand Their Employees
Natural language processing technology may be the key to making leadership development a science.
In today’s workplace, the nature of communication is undergoing a profound shift. While we often assume that ubiquity of technology is driving us apart, LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report suggests that interpersonal communication is the most in-demand soft skill today. And in an era where workers must collaborate with at least 10 people every day to get things done, it should be no surprise that communications is a leading factor in a company’s success.
Historically, measuring and improving the way people communicate within organizations has presented executives with a Gordian knot of complexity. But, as corporate learning and leadership development move online, organizations can follow the digital breadcrumbs left behind peer-to-peer interactions spot untapped leadership potential, or gauge employee sentiment with respect to the launch of new initiatives.
The process is rooted in the advent of natural language processing technology, also referred to as “discourse analysis,” which is the study of relationships between naturally occurring connected sentences, spoken or written.
Companies that utilize digital tools to activate strategies or facilitate structured dialogue as part of leadership development efforts can, for example, mine the data produced by natural language processing to better understand leadership dynamics, influence and culture. This isn’t about listening in on private conversations or identifying individuals by name, but over time, patterns emerge, helping executives to spot unintended consequence, and make more informed decisions. It can help executives to unearth sentiment that shows how their communications are perceived by cohorts (e.g., segmented anonymously by role or geography) within their company. And with over 84 percent of companies embracing the importance of “people analytics,” it’s more important than ever to understand natural language processing and how it works. Here’s why:
It fosters transparency.
A recent study showed that a majority of workers (66 percent) believe that digital technologies and AI can give rise to a more transparent workplace. Transparency means more accountability and less office politics, which can, in turn, make employees more productive. With the help of natural language processing, leaders and talent management can establish clear career paths and expectations with a precise system to assess performance. This kind of transparent feedback loop is great because it doesn’t put employees — for example, introverts, who are often overlooked in the promotion process — at a disadvantage.
It’s non-intrusive and effortless to deploy.
One of the reasons why natural language processing algorithms are impossible to manipulate is because they run quietly in the background while employees go about their daily work. Unlike traditional training programs that take employees outside their daily routine, analytical platforms don’t rob employees of precious time; instead, it observes workplace behaviors, serves gentle reminders on key skills like collaboration and can be implemented in less than a day to boot.
It eliminates bias.
Communications within and across organizations often reflect implicit and structural bias, resulting in processes that are more subjective than they are meritocratic. Leaders often pick who they want to promote based on unconscious biases. By implementing tools that derive insight from the interactions of employees using natural language processing, leaders can generate a blind view of who is contributing the most creative ideas, who casts the largest net of network influence and who has the ability to inspire their teams. The insights gleaned can help them engage and retain the best employees, regardless of gender, race or culture, to avoid lousy morale and expensive turnover.
Amid a hyperconnected workforce, the flood of new workplace communications apps provide a familiarity with the sort of communications that enable back end natural language processing, implemented strategically, will continue to demonstrate value.
Via Forbes : The Five C’s Of Effective Communication
Have you ever been in a meeting and felt like others were dismissing your opinions and input? Or do you feel like you can’t get your point across when requesting something in a conversation? One of the main reasons we don’t feel respected in the workplace, as in any other setting, is a lack of dynamic communication.
When we don’t feel heard at work, where we usually spend most of our waking hours, we can become incredibly frustrated, judgmental and apt to misinterpret situations way more often. It can lead to breakdowns and unengaged employees or leaders if they don’t feel valued and respected. Bad communication creates tension and a negative dynamic and environment. Ultimately, communication is the key to building trust interpersonally and within a team, and trust is essential to great performance and outcomes.
The goal is to master communication and have a clear road map of how to use it to create positive outcomes in the workplace and in every conversation. Communication is key for creating wins for all parties involved, including employees and leaders, as well as team culture, the organization, customer service and ultimately the bottom line. When the focus of a company is on its product, service or customer support instead of solving internal issues, it can increase productivity, profits and employee engagement.
When initiating a conversation, always make sure the time is right and that you have the other person’s undivided attention. Here are the five C’s of effective communication:
1. Be clear.
To communicate effectively, you have to know what you want and take ownership for your own needs. Before communicating your issue, identify it and know what you want and need from the other person. When you experience an issue, try to get clarity on what the issue is and why it shows up for you. Do you feel disrespected and shut down when a colleague is not open to hearing your opinion in a meeting? Understand what value of yours isn’t being honored, and own it. It’s your responsibility to initiate the tough conversation.
Communicate the issue directly without misinterpreting or reacting emotionally, judgmentally or defensively. Take ownership of your experience, and be transparent. Be as clear and objective as possible.
2. Be concise.
Keep your requests direct, simple and to the point. The less wordy, the better. Don’t get caught up in the story — focus on getting your point across in the most succinct manner and moving the conversation forward.
3. Provide a compelling request.
Once you make a request for change, you’re in negotiations. After communicating the issue, provide the person with a suggested solution that you’d be happy with. If you feel shut down and dismissed in meetings whenever you bring your area of expertise into consideration, first ask the other person if there’s a deeper issue. Then, ask how you might resolve it, and make your request to be listened to in the future. Explain that it’s just as important for you to express your opinion or expertise, be involved in the conversation, and share your thoughts on the topic to provide necessary feedback.
4. Be curious.
Listen to what the other person needs. Once you make a request, be curious about what the other person’s issues and objectives are and what they might need to fulfill your request. It’s not all about you. Understand where the other person is coming from because they also have needs and issues that need to be addressed.
5. Be compassionate.
Make an attempt to understand the other person. Listen carefully to their feedback, and put your own assumptions aside. When a person feels like they’re being heard, they tend to open up more and feel safer and more secure in the conversation, which can lead to a more trusting relationship. Having the ability to understand, recognize and appreciate the way others feel is crucial to resolving conflict, managing change and making tough decisions. Strive to negotiate a win for both parties by taking the other person’s perspective into consideration. Get a clear understanding of what it would take for both of you to get a positive outcome.
Dynamic communication is one of the most important skills to develop. It’s beneficial not only in the workplace but also in virtually every area of your life. It’s important to understand that communication is what builds bridges and connects people in a powerful way. When you’re able to get your point across in an objective manner, others are more likely to open up, see your perspective and negotiate with you. Communication is the key to influencing others and creating powerful teams, relationships and joint forces to achieve successful outcomes.
Via The Ladders : How to effectively remove departmental jargon from your work communication
In today’s fast-paced, streamlined workplace, buzzwords permeate the landscape … value-add, deliverable, leverage, take it to the next level, it is what it is. And when you get deeper into workplace departments, the jargon gets even more confusing: internet of things, return on investment, total quality management, bleeding edge, capacity planning.
These are just a few prevalent terms now used at work. And while departmental jargon sometimes works well to communicate ideas and goals inside a single business unit, once it crosses department lines, it’s often vague, confusing, and even offensive. Departmental jargon can hurt both internal and external business if it’s misunderstood.
The bottom line: Workplace communication is hard enough without throwing in departmental jargon!
“When everyone is on the same page, it’s so much easier for everyone to do their job,” according to JobMonkey.com. “A failure to communicate is one of the fastest ways to sabotage your business. A simple comment lost in translation … could all be solved through proper communication.”
So how can you “separate the signal from the noise” at work and speak concisely to individuals outside of your area of expertise?
Keep email, chat, text, and video free of jargon
The best way to make sure your message is clear to anyone not familiar with your department’s specific jargon is to not use buzzwords at all. Use clear and concise wording to get your point across. This helps you avoid confusing those not familiar with specific departmental jargon.
Think of it this way: If you were speaking to your mother about a problem at work and she had no idea what your job was, how would you explain it to her? Use this approach regardless of who you are communicating with and the method used, whether via email, chat, text, or video.
Email: Write simple, direct emails
When crafting an email, avoid using jargon. The reason is simple: You don’t always know who will be reading your email. Plus, you can save yourself some time writing it, because you won’t need to explain any buzzwords or concepts that someone outside your department may not understand. This way, regardless of who reads the email, your message will be crystal clear.
For example, you may write: “Management is changing the market dynamics” compared to “the company is acting as a disruptor in the market.” Someone may consider the word disruptor a negative in this example instead of a positive if they didn’t have a full understanding of the term in a business context.
“Emails, like traditional business letters, need to be clear and concise,” according to MindTools.com. “Keep your sentences short and to the point. The body of the email should be direct and informative, and it should contain all pertinent information.”
If you do use jargon in your emails, then make sure to fully explain it.
Chat: Eliminate jargon to avoid confusion
Chat is another area where departmental jargon often causes confusion. Using buzzwords in a business chat with clients or coworkers could cause your message to get lost amid confusing “business speak.”
When a chat involves just your own department, there usually isn’t an issue with communication because everyone understands the same jargon, whether it is about IT, operations, human resources, etc. Problems can occur, however, when a new coworker joins you and isn’t up to speed yet or if individuals from different departments take part in a chatroom conversation and they aren’t familiar with your work or processes.
If everyone spoke in their own departmental jargon, how many communication breakdowns would you expect? More than likely, at least a few.
And what if you speak with one of your customers through a chat program? While you might know exactly what you are trying to communicate, the customer may not fully understand your message, possibly costing you a valuable business opportunity.
Text: Make it clear and to the point
Another communication method most of us have used over the past few years is text. With text communications, it’s vital that you speak simply and clearly. If you don’t, you risk confusing, or worse alienating, the person at the other end of your text.
Just imagine the amount of time it would take to have to explain a complex, jargon-filled text to someone who doesn’t know what you’re talking about. Using simple terms that everyone understands, to begin with, is the best way to get the point of your text across quickly and effectively.
In addition to avoiding jargon while texting, it’s important to follow common text etiquette rules to make sure that your text is easily understood. For instance, avoid using emojis and abbreviations in a work-related text. The people you communicate with are your co-workers and clients, and they require a more formal method of communication.
“The receiver should not be confused as to what you are trying to say, and if your message is interpreted the wrong way, your miscommunication could cause conflicts and even missed business opportunities,” according to Entrepreneur.com. “Make sure your message is clear, and review it for standalone clarity before hitting the send button.”
Video: Instruct or explain using succinct, crisp dialogue
It’s also critical that your video communication is clear and concise. Not only can confusion run amuck if you use departmental jargon, it’s difficult to come back after the fact and explain what you meant. Use terms everyone can understand when making your video presentation.
This is especially true for videos meant to educate others in a process familiar to employees who are not in your department. Look at it this way: If you were someone completely new to your department, how would you want something explained to you? Maybe you haven’t had time to pick up on all of the common departmental terms. Think of the confusion that would create. Instead, create a video that avoids that confusion using succinct, crisp dialogue.
The ultimate goal
Departmental jargon is bound to pop up when you work with others in the same field or team. Keep in mind, though, that company leaders, co-workers in other departments, and customers unfamiliar with the jargon might find themselves feeling lost and confused.
Your ultimate goal? Craft clear, concise communications that anyone can understand in order to get your message across each and every time.
Via HR Technologist : 7 Tips On Promoting Effective Communication Skills at Workplace
Effective communication skills are essential to succeed in your career. Learn these 7 steps to take to improve communication at workplace and get benefits.
Good communication between team members is essential for effective work. It can bring people closer, solve any problems and increase engagement. Poor communication, on the other hand, only leads to misunderstanding, obstacles and ineffective work.
You may believe that you already have good communication skills – but the thing with communication is that it can always be improved.
Here are some ideas on how you could promote better, effective communication at work:
1. Listen to your team members
People in higher positions usually feel like they have to all of the talking and none of the listening. This is wrong for many reasons. For one, people that have a more hands-on approach often have better ideas on how to improve the work environment. They often know where the problems occur, what the most effective time of day is and how to improve efficiency. Be open to their ideas and listen to what they have to say. If you believe that you are a good listener already, pay attention to your habits at work – notice if you start interrupting your team members if you start spacing out or looking at your devices while they speak to you.
2. Create a communication-friendly space
Your role as an HR manager is to make sure that the work environment is always open in terms of communication flow. Speaking up should never be something that your employees are afraid to do. Set an example of how they should behave – always say good morning and address them by their names, ask them questions to get the conversation going from the start of the day. When you speak to them, don’t appear distracted and disrespectful and always make sure that any problems are solved by communication and not by arguing. This way, your employees will have a hint at what they should do if they run into a disagreement. Encourage good interaction outside of work – building these relationships is important. Let your employees know that they can come talk to you whenever they need to. An open-door policy is a good way to create an effective environment.
3. Ask for feedback
A good way to keep the communication going is to move forward from the traditional top-down communication lines. Ask your employees to share their ideas, thoughts, complaints in any way they feel comfortable with. Some of them will enjoy having a conversation whenever possible but some will be shy and would prefer other means of communication. Offer emails and resources where they could let you know what their opinions are – some email writing tools that you could recommend are Academ Advisor, Via Writing or Boom Essays. Allow them to talk in meetings as well, let them ask questions – this is the best way to promote good conversation and educate them.
4. Host team-building games
This may not be the most often used way to improve communication at work and sometimes it might not be appropriate but it is certainly effective. Team building games are fun and employees grow to have better relationships with their colleagues as well as their managers if they are involved. “These don’t have to be elaborate – you could simply make a game out of writing something unexpected about yourself on a piece of paper, throwing it in a hat and letting everyone guess whose unexpected confession it is”, – explains Stephen Davis, an HR manager at Essayroo and Study Demic writer.
5. Open a platform for anonymous feedback
As previously stated, some people might have some trouble speaking publicly or letting everyone know how they feel. This is why it’s a good idea to have a system for anonymous feedback. It can be as simple as a box or a book for anonymous opinions or as elaborate as a forum for your employees. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to share their thoughts this way – even those who like speaking in person will give you a more honest opinion when they feel safe. This can give you great ideas on how to improve your current processes.
6. Have monthly one-on-one meetings
Instead of speaking one-on-one with your employees annually, make it a habit to hold these meetings once a month. It’s a good idea because you’ll have a better representation of how they feel, what is happening in their office and personal life and you’ll also build trust this way. If they get used to speaking with you once a month, their walls will come down and you’ll be able to get a full picture of their thoughts. Set a schedule of these meetings and let your employees know on time – you can use tools like StateOfWriting and UK Writings to create accurate emails so that there is no confusion.
Working as a team is good for sharing ideas and boosting productivity. However, these efforts can be hampered if the communication between team members isn’t good. Make sure that you maintain open lines of communication and that you are constantly working on improving them further.