Do you ever wonder why your employees aren’t hearing a word you say? Maybe you have spoken to someone multiple times for a correction in performance or direction in a project, yet the results remain the same. There are many factors that impede communication, however we are going to discuss the most common: culture, gender, and method.
If you have a diverse workforce then you most likely have employees from different cultures. Culture varies from geographical regions of the world to even regions within the United States. Americans typically exude a “pioneer” communication and decision making style. Although it has worked for us, this style can be viewed as aloof to other cultures such as cultures in the Asian and European regions because the Asian culture values socializing and relationships and European culture values information that can be analyzed over time for dependable results. As pioneers, we are more direct, make decisions quickly, get the job done and get out, and accept that making mistakes are part of the process.
Spend time with your employees to explore their culture to learn the most effective manner of communicating with them. Help your employees understand your culture and your expectations of them in their performance and projects so they are better prepared to hear your message.
While this is not always the case, women and men communicate and process information differently. Women tend to be more collaborative and ask questions, while men may view this as the women challenging them and unable to carry the responsibility of the job. Men tend to participate in conversation with each other emphatically and seek refuge to analyze information, women view the lack of verbal invitation to participate in the conversation as exclusion and seclusion as unwillingness to work as a team.
The key to poor gender communication is to educate yourself of the potential differences, appreciate and respect them, and foresee and respond to them appropriately.
Could you be a communication escalator? An individual that escalates their language typically adds value to the core word of a phrase: “totally ready”, “amazing data”, “really super amazing presentation”. Occasionally, and especially when performance is “sandwiched”, the receiver of communication stops listening after the escalating context. This means that the receiver leaves the conversation thinking they are doing the best job ever and never hears the part that needs improvement or has direction!
I escalation could be a problem in your communication, try eliminating it with that particular individual. Additionally, if the “sandwich” didn’t work, lose the sandwich and get to the point.
“Well, maybe the presentation could use more slides”, “It’s possible that I missed a call”, “I don’t really understand the graph”. If you are one of many that decrease your communication, you may be sending a mixed message. In each of the examples, you may feel like you are left wondering “well, did it or didn’t it”, “does it or doesn’t it”, “did you or didn’t you”. That is how a receiver of decreasing communication may also feel, therefore leaving more confused than before and likely not changing a thing.
Similar to escalation, if decreasing communication is the root of your problem, try eliminating it and being more direct with your thoughts and expectations. If you are using decreasing communication to inspire conversation and collaboration, try inviting the other person’s ideas so that it becomes an exploratory conversation instead of a confusing mess.
Yes, unless you have mastered communication, it is highly likely that someone on your team is not hearing you. Before you throw in the towel, discover more about the individual and adapt your communication style with theirs. Everyone wins when effective communication is practiced.
April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.
Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.
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