Companies are more productive if employees know how to communicate with each other. Good communication leads to better collaboration, better information and knowledge sharing, and to less misunderstanding and conflicts.
The path to good communication isn’t easy – and it contains three major milestones which we will discuss in three separate articles: Communicating about yourself, communicating within your team and communicating across your organization.
Let’s get started by looking at ourselves, shall we?
Self-awareness: The key to change and learning
The way you see yourself influences the way you communicate with others. And only if you are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, of your motivations and limitations, only then can you identify opportunities for personal improvement and development. In order to do that, you have to break the simplistic behavioral pattern we so often apply:
1. Trigger: We perceive something that triggers our reaction, e.g. someone talks to us.
2. Impulse: Based on learned behavioral patterns, we initiate a specific reaction.
3. Behavior: We do what we always do in those kinds of situations.
If you are capable of self-awareness, you will always insert two additional steps into this pattern: After your initial impulse, you evaluate the specifics of the situation. And then you make a deliberate choice about how you behave.
Emotions: Accept them and deal with them
Everyone has emotions. Denying, ignoring, or suppressing them at work isn't a solution. To the contrary: More often than not, it's the problem because the way we feel in any given situation has significant consequences for our behavior.
Therefore, an important requirement for successful communication at work is that you are able to…
- be aware of and reflect on how you feel and
- understand and appreciate how others feel (yes, that's called empathy).
The most common negative emotions at the workplace are anxiety, anger, shame, and fear.
Make an effort to observe yourself whenever you feel one of those things and try to develop your own coping strategies. Like all things in life, it will take practice, but you will get there eventually.
Integrity and values: Become someone others can trust
Besides self-awareness and emotional intelligence, your integrity is the final building block of your personal foundation for successful communication.
Rule of thumb: Always try to be as honest as you can, as transparent as you can, and aim to find solutions that benefit both you and the person you’re communicating with. If people perceive you as a reliable, honest, and trustworthy individual, they will be much more inclined to talk to you more openly and honest themselves.
Those three parts are the toolkit you need for successful communication. In the next part of this article series, we’ll have a look at how we can use this toolkit to communicate with our colleagues.
If you would like to read more about the topic of successful communication at work, then download the Premium eBook Navigating Conversations in the Workplace: A Communication Map by Daniela Rohan.
Also, have a look at our website bookboon.com where you’ll find many more Premium eBooks.
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