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The Importance of Communication May Not Be the Same to All

There is not a day goes by that I don’t hear issues with workplace situations, or even with interpersonal relationships. We all know that communication is not the same to everyone, and much as been written and trained on this topic. But, honestly, how often do we truly pay attention to this topic?

I recently had a client whose organization is planning to undergo some changes, at least that’s what the rumor mill says. This person’s manager admits that there is ‘something’ going on but they have not been forthcoming with exactly what ‘something’ is. I admit that when I was in a leadership role, I was not at liberty to divulge a lot of information but being vague and withholding is not doing your workers, or the work environment, any good.

Communication, especially in layered organizations, will stop somewhere; typically, this is dependent on the manager and his or her determination of the importance and necessity for their workers to know. The importance for one is not as important for another. Why might this be?

There can many reasons to speculate but some I’ve identified include (taken from real situations):

  • they are not at liberty to divulge any information
  • the plans for change are not clear yet
  • they don’t want to upset their workers until the change happens (so short-sighted)
  • they don’t know how to deliver the news
  • they don’t know how/lack the confidence to lead the change\
  • they are waiting for someone else to deliver the news

Do any of these sound familiar? Dealing with change is not easy, if we perceive the change in a negative manner; there will be reactions to change, some which may be positive, but if a leader is anticipating negative responses then they will stop that flow of communicating with those who deserve to know. What a leader needs to know is that by not giving workers any information, it creates an environment that opens the door to anxiety, worry, gossip, irritability, and overall, a very negative workplace.

As a coachable moment, work on being more open and transparent, as well as observant and empathetic, with those who report to you; while you may not be at liberty to give them details until given the ‘okay,’ you can let your workers know that. Talk to your workers individually to assess how they feel about potential changes and how you will be leading them through this – walking with them. Have meetings as a group to bring out and, hopefully, dispel any rumors so that everyone is hearing the same thing; have teambuilding exercises to relieve any stress or negativity and to bring members together – afterall, they are going through this together.

The biggest take-away is to be in a higher awareness that we all hear things differently; when we keep this in mind, then it helps in looking at our own communication patterns and to make any changes necessary; we can become more empathetic and try to look at situations from another’s perspective which can lead to less conflict, more understanding, more bonding, and better interactions.

If you’re looking to be a better leader, or improve your communication patterns and interactions, let’s talk! Contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com

Getting Out of the “I don’t know” Rut

Have you ever been asked a question by someone and found yourself answering “I don’t know”? I see this often, and have been guilty of it myself in the past. What I find is that in times of crisis – or when something feels that way – we may not really know an answer; it’s as if the brain freezes and we can’t find the words to express ourselves.

Another possibility is that we have the answer but we ‘really’ don’t want to say it, out of worry over the response from the person asking. It’s as if we already ‘know’ what they will say or how they will react – “I don’t want to hurt their feelings,’ or ‘They are going to be so mad at me.’ We are mind-reading at this point and predicting the result, both of which are defense mechanisms meant to protect us.

If we hurt another’s feelings, we then have to deal with the guilt or shame we may feel; if someone gets mad at our words or actions, we then have to atone or may hide from them if we avoid conflict. When we don’t like the negative feelings that may result in confronting a situation, we will do all we can to avoid it. There are some who fear the initial response from the other person that they either don’t think about or don’t care that the end-result can be worse if the person finds out. So, I don’t know becomes not telling you how much you slighted me, to now dealing with you’re not speaking to me.

The funny thing is, as well, that we do this with ourselves. We hide our own feelings when we don’t want to be disappointed, get angry, get hurt, etc. How many times do you say “I don’t know” when asked where you want to go eat or what you want for dinner?  We do have the answers but are fearful of saying them, which is the task at hand:

  • go back and look at all the times when you said or thought, “I don’t know” – tally them up and you may be surprised at how often we say this phrase (i.e. ‘what do I want to eat”‘ ‘what time do I want to get up?’ etc.)
  • asses these times and who was involved; what were the underlying thoughts or fears that you are afraid to let out. These are the root-causes(s) and now can be dealt with
  • Now, take each of these situations and reframe them with saying what is really on your mind, not worrying about the response or the result. See how it ‘feels.’ Come up with assertive responses to resolve the issue

Those are some simple but effective steps to finally be able to say your thoughts/feelings and no worry about the reactions you gt. Being assertive means you can express yourself but you are not doing it at the expense of someone else. By using these steps, you can now feel free by releasing “I don’t know” from your vocabulary and feel freer to be you.

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