Communication is Key

An unusual phenomenon is taking place across the work landscape in every field, sector, and industry: there is an excessive amount of superficial conversation taking place, but little precious effective communication. And while those two words — conversation and communication — may at first glance seem to be synonymous or, at least, closely related, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Many people think that the opposite of communication is the absence of communication, but that is not necessarily the case. There is also the problem of believing that effective communication is taking place when what is really happening is a lot of noise going back-and-forth. So, while people are busy and constantly talking, emailing, or sending texts and instant messages, they are not working cohesively to usher priority tasks through to completion in a timely manner.

The solution to this very common problem is for businesses to implement coaching and training programs — and support them with processes and policies — that transform communication in the workplace from meaningless to meaningful. Today, Former Captain Jay Hart goes over his top three tips for boosting effective workplace communication.

1. Active Listening

Communication is a dialogue; not a diatribe. As such, businesses need to help employees understand how to actively listen and pay attention, rather than spend their time speaking or rehearsing what they are about to say next. Former Captain Jay Hart notes that for many people, active listening starts out as a challenge. But after a while, the rewards are so immense that it becomes second nature. It is like becoming fit. At first, it is a grind. But once people cross the threshold from unhealthy to healthy, the get so much out of it that their only regret is they did not start sooner.

2. Timely Responsiveness

Most employees want to provide timely responses, but they simply cannot: there are too many voicemails, too many emails, and too many texts. The simplest way to mitigate this overload and improve responsiveness is by using automated tools. Former Captain Jay Hart explains that it only takes a few seconds for an employee to create an email autoresponder announcing that they will be out of the office until next week, or to change their voicemail greeting. Little things like this go a long way towards improving communication in the workplace and closing communication gaps.

3. Anti-Distraction Culture

The move to an open office environment has, for many businesses, erupted in chronic distraction — which does not just reduce efficiency, but it also lowers morale and can contribute to employee absenteeism and turnover. The solution here is not to revert to a cubicle jungle setup since studies show that employees hate cubicles more than anything. Rather, it is to foster and enforce an anti-distraction culture so that employees can communicate without fear of being interrupted every few seconds. Former Captain Jay Hart suggests creating corporate policies that create quiet times during the workplace. Many businesses are establishing a heads-down period, such as from 1 pm to 2 pm in the afternoon. During this time, employees who want to hold an impromptu meeting or have a discussion need to either postpone it until later or move to another area where they will not be a distraction and allowing employees to have a period of time to solely dedicate to their work.

The Bottom Line

Transforming superficial conversation into quality, effective communication does not happen overnight. Furthermore, when it is achieved then it needs constant monitoring and optimizing — because communication is dynamic, not static. Former Captain Jay Hart concludes that “businesses that establish and exploit effective communication are dramatically more successful than those that do not. Their employees are more productive, their customers are happier, their profits are greater, and their competitive advantages are stronger. Basically, effective communication is the gift that keeps on giving.” 

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