Topic of the Week Talk Less, Say More: Improving Workplace Communications
- DO connect.
- DO convey.
- DO convince.
- DON'T communi-fake.
Communication sounds so easy in theory, but it's often so painful at work. Which reminds me of a statistic I recently read at BookOfOdds.com. What kills more people each year in the U.S., sharks or vending machines? The answer, of course, is vending machines. They're twice as deadly as sharks (chances that you'll die from a vending machine falling on you are 1 in 112,000,000 vs. 1 in 251,800,000 from Jaws).
No wonder work is so deadly, because it forces us to navigate around both sharks and vending machines! Most of us worry about getting chewed up by our boss or attacked by a colleague. But the bigger threat to our success often comes from more mundane breakdowns, like when a colleague drops a ton of irrelevant information on our head or someone offers something but doesn't deliver. I've got three Do's and one Don't to improve workplace dialogues from communication-coach-to-the-stars, Connie Dieken. For more, check out her book "Talk Less, Say More" (Wiley, 2009).
DO connect. Why is it so hard to connect with people today? Well the answer is all around us, just watch people walking down the street each plugged into their own iPods to see how much we're all marching to our own beat. There are many tricks for breaking through this clutter to actually connect with others. For example, you can tell a lot by closely watching someone's eyes and lips while you speak to monitor how your message is being received. You should also "frontload" your messages, so people get your point right away.
DO convey. The issue is not if you are suffering from information overload, we all are. There is a delicious irony here, most of us complain about the clutter and then we turn around and pile clutter on top of others. But I'm not talking about emailing links to YouTube videos and jokes, it's how we fail to concisely convey, and receive, the messages that we all need to succeed at work. Dieken reminds us that visuals have more punch than your words. And always seek to deliver your stories with "planned" spontaneity.
DO convince. At the end of the day most of us want to convince people about our ideas, our products or our intentions. But the process isn't a lightening bolt, it often takes time and unfolds gradually. Strategies to improve your convince-ability include: sounding more decisive, giving others a chance to buy into your ideas and to always adjust your energy level to the situation.
DON'T communi-fake. Admit it, that's how you'd describe much of the communication at work. If we all connect, convey and convince more often we can actually hear, and be heard, more consistently at work. What a concept.
Follow these tips and you'll be a more effective communicator, as long as you remember to step away from the vending machine (even if it just did eat your change).
About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winningworkplace911.com. If you have a question for Bob, contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.