Why Effective Communication is Important
In the real world, 70% of communication efforts are misheard, misunderstood or distorted. Leaders need to learn how to communicate with team members in order to ensure that all parties are on the same page. The goal of communication is to obtain mutual understanding with people who may have different perspectives or information. Leaders must also use effective communication to express their visions and strategies to motivate their people at all levels (Northouse, 2016).
Issues To Be Solved / Expected Outcomes
Frequent communication problems include heavy reliance on technology, which reduces face to face time. As a result, it is hard to build trust since the receiving parties cannot determine verbal or non verbal cues, which can lead to misinterpretations of email messages (Noon, 2013). However, effective use of technology can increase efficiency in the workplace. It is important to be cognizant of when to use certain types of communication. Leaders should meet in person when engaging in the following activities (Cooser, n.d.):
- Negotiating major agreements = enhances the relationship
- Resolving increasingly complex email thread = gets everyone on the same page
- Checking in with team members (one-on-ones) = genuine interaction
- Hands on training for employees = gauge understanding of concepts
Seating dynamics are a nonverbal cue that are good to know when having one-on-one meetings with team members, since it can set a tone for the meeting:
Defensiveness and disconfirmation are some of the communication obstacles that can occur, usually when someone is receiving feedback or criticism. Individuals can feel threatened or attacked, which will turn them self defensive. When this happens, the individual spends more time and energy trying to defend themselves instead of listen to the other party. Typical defensive reactions include aggression, anger, competitiveness, and avoidance. Disconfirmation occurs when individuals feel incompetent or insignificant. Their focus then shifts towards attempts that re-establish their self worth and importance, instead of listening. Typical disconfirmation reactions include self centered behaviours, withdrawal, or loss of motivation.
In reality, communication is a hard tool to master. Conveying the intended message is not as easy as one may think; and receiving feedback and input from others is another challenge on its own. What a person says is as important as how they say it. Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry Group PLC, makes it a priority to communicate clearly, consistently, and openly with employees. This enables everyone to get behind the company’s strategic vision and direction (Burnison, 2012).
Leaders should address these obstacles by taking a positive relationship approach:
- Supportive Communication
- Through both verbal and non verbal forms
- Refrain from being judgemental or evaluative
- Be specific and problem oriented (not directed at the individual)
- Validate others through recognition and understanding
- Active Listening
- Use eye contact
- Refrain from interrupting
- Focus on understanding their perspective
- Ask questions to understand the situation
- Paraphrase the conversation to show understanding
- Effective Feedback
- Focus on next steps (forward looking) to address the situation
- Discuss lessons learned for next time
- Be honest and respectful
Leaders should also look to develop the following 6 communication skills:
- Know Yourself (self awareness)
- Know Your Audience (preferred communication styles, motivations, etc…)
- Be Direct, Specific & Clear (increases comprehension)
- Pay Attention to Non-verbal Cues (affirms understanding)
- Listen More Than You Speak (builds rapport)
- Be Positive & Respectful (maintains a collaborative environment)
Please check out this article for further elaboration of the above skills.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice(7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Noon, C. (2013, June 19). The Problem With E-mail. Retrieved March 28, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/2006/09/21/cisco-skype-communications-cx_cn_0921email.html#1575024015d5
Cooser, A. (n.d.). How to Identify If You Need a Business Meeting Vs. Emails. Retrieved March 28, 2018, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/identify-need-business-meeting-vs-emails-150.html
Burnison, G. (2012, April 5). Why communication is essential for great leaders. Retrieved April 08, 2018, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/careers-leadership/why-communication-is-essential-for-great-leaders/article4098019/
6 Communication Skills That Will Make You a Better Leader. (2017, May 01). Retrieved April 08, 2018, from https://www.success.com/article/6-communication-skills-that-will-make-you-a-better-leader