Good Communication - The oil that smooths the path towards organisational effectiveness
We can all think of that one colleague at work who drives us crazy. No matter what we do we seem to be at logger heads with this person in just trying to get the simple day to day things done. Worse still if this person is a key member of your team or even your boss! How much sleep is lost and how much time is spent worrying about or dealing with this difficult person? Often the root cause can simply be the result of poor communication and lack of understanding and valuing personality differences.
One effective strategy in dealing with these problems can be to understand communication styles. We all have preferred ways of working and communicating and if that preference is poles apart from that of your colleagues, communication and interpersonal issue can arise. Imagine your world if you no longer lost time or sleep because of unresolved interpersonal issues, that seem insurmountable?
Whilst understanding personality differences can be difficult, poor communication is often as simple as not understanding that people have different styles or preferences in the way they communicate. Understanding styles and how different styles interact can go a long way to resolving issues.
Think of a time when you worked in a great team. What made in such a good team to be in? Chances are that you all got on well, had a shared understanding of what the team needed to achieve and had a good way to resolve any issues if they arose. Communication is at the core of all of this.
Understanding Communication Styles
Experiences in the work place, supported by research, shows each person has a preferred way, or a specific style of communicating. Once you have a clear understanding of your own style it then becomes easier to identify other’s preferences and to identify typical barriers of communication between styles. Once barriers are identified and understood strategies can be put in place to overcome these barriers. As Stephen Covey has famously stated “seek first to understand then to be understood”.
While there are many ways to determine communication styles DiSC is a well-recognised tool that can be used to identify preferred communication styles and to help untangle difficult interpersonal communication
Issues. Not only can this deal with issues one on one, but it can also, not surprisingly, help build positive team dynamics.
In DiSC language D stands for Dominance, i for influence, C for conscientiousness and S for steadiness. Of course people often have a mix of styles, but what may seem surprising is that styles tend to be stable over time and in different situations. DiSC is a well-researched, reliable and valid tool, that can be relied on to deliver dependable assessments and great organisational results.
To perform at its best, a team needs multiple styles. The challenge is to value and use your differences constructively, and make the team more than just the sum of its individual players.
There are, however, situations and relationships where one style will help you communicate more effectively than another. As you learn about styles you can use what you know to “flex” your style when needed, thus over coming barriers that originally seemed impossible to fix.
Valuing differences is also important. Asking your self
- if you value the other person or team member’s styles,
- what is the value of the perspective they can offer?
- how can you let others know you appreciate their style?
This helps to identify communication ‘realities’ of others.
Acknowledge others’ realities is vital to good communication. It is important to meet individuals with other styles on their terms, with responses that they can understand and appreciate. If you expect them to meet you on your terms only, or see the world through your eyes, your communication troubles are far from over!
It can be easy to be considerate and accommodating when things are going well. But what happens when you are facing pressure? When things are going pear shaped you need to have the capacity to keep an open mind and understanding communication styles will help you do this, in fact this is when you need it the most.
Take a Fresh Look at Personality Differences
So how do you get the best out of understanding communication styles. Ask you self what is your colleagues’ style? What could he/she contribute to you and your team’s success — even if it is a bitter pill to swallow? How could you connect better, and avoid pushing his/her buttons? What would you like him/her to appreciate about your communication style and what you have to offer? If you ask these questions with a genuine desire to improve the situation, your path forward will be a lot smoother.
Learning about communication styles is not an opportunity to look for excuses! It is an opportunity to improve relationships and to increase your flexibility, your sensitivity, and your ability to offer others the support and encouragement that they need.
Learning about communication styles has a lot of different applications. Not only can you improve your own personal and working relationships one on one, but it can improve team effectiveness and your effectiveness as a leader of people. There are many ways to apply knowledge of communication styles, everything from managing that tricky relationship through to improving effectiveness at work, through to getting on the same page with your customer in a selling or cold call situation.
Sheryl Richards and Bruce Thompson are accredited DiSC practitioners and further information can be found at http://fortunaintl.co.nz/