Tag Archive | communication

Is it just your job?

How-to-keep-communication-flowing-in-the-workforceHave you ever worked for a company that gave you a job description when you hired on, continued to add responsibilities but rarely let you know how you were doing unless, of course, you made a huge mistake? In other words, if the job got done, no one said anything. They expected you to do it. After all, it’s your job.

Although most businesses are moving to correct this lack of communication with performance evaluations and other forms of recognition, most managers haven’t bought into the simple concept that regularly affirming good behavior means it will be repeated. It’s not rocket science, but they must figure they don’t have time to do anything but get widgets out the door. Maybe it’s a more difficult idea to grasp than you think because so few practice it or at least do it well.  Many think this warm and fuzzy stuff does not belong in the workplace, but the funny thing is that affirming another person, even for regularly performed tasks, belongs everywhere. It builds relationships, and people from all walks of life will respond – though some to a higher degree than others. It will work at home with your spouse and kids, at school or work and even with strangers at the market.

Think about it. Most people don’t wake up in the morning planning to sabotage their day with misdemeanors. They like it when things go well, so they apply their energies in that direction. But if no one notices a job well done, some feel they have no reason to continue and will begin to slack off. It takes integrity to keep doing your best when no one seems to care, and honestly, you don’t see as much of this character quality as you used to. On the other side of the coin, if no one says that you’re doing something incorrectly, you’ll keep on doing it the same way as you have always done and again, quality will decline. Honest communication is necessary.

So how can you sincerely and genuinely affirm someone and make a difference? Catch them doing the right thing well – even if it is on their job description – and tell them so. Make sure to avoid generic sentiments like “way to go,” “good job,” or even “love, love, love it.” If they have done something outstanding, tell them specifically what it is you like and how it affected you. “Thanks so much for staying after hours to finish up that report so that it would be ready for the meeting in the morning. It calmed my jitters to know you had everything read,” means a lot more than “Thanks for the effort.” And guess what, the next time you have a project requiring a little extra effort, you know who will be willing to go the extra mile.

At home, cooking meals, doing the laundry, mowing the grass and repairing broken fixtures don’t just happen. A little appreciation and affirmation will go a long way with family members too. Again, be specific and explain how the effort added value. It’s also a great way to teach your kids without a long lecture. Ever wonder why they behave so well at someone else’s house – likely because someone there affirmed their good behavior.

Oops! I think I forgot to mention there might be a little side effect – no small print or hushed voice necessary. When you see the positive response in the other person, it will do something in your heart as well. You’ll feel good, deep down inside. You’re creating endorphins, and they’re an excellent remedy for stress. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Do differences in learning style preferences affect relationships?

Do you want to weigh in on this topic? I’ll start by giving you my answer, “Yes.” This is not based on any scientific studies but totally on personal experience. My husband and I have been married for a long time and though we have had some ups and downs, we are more in love today than ever. That said, our learning styles have impacted our relationship and perhaps even caused some of those blips in the road.

You see, my husband is a visual learner. Give him a book or show him a diagram and he has whatever the task or skill mastered. I, on the other hand am an auditory learner. I can listen to the radio, a conversation or presentation, and I have the concepts and examples down pat. Give me a book, and it takes a lot longer unless I read it aloud.

I know there are divided schools of thoughts on learning styles and their impact on the way kids/students/adults learn, but I think they have merit. There are three basic styles, auditory, kinesthetic (hands on) and visual. Each person responds better to one or the other. It does not necessarily mean that a person cannot learn if material is offered in a medium contrary to his/her style preference, it just takes longer.

For example, if my husband wants to share information with me, he will print it off and hand it to me or send me a link to a website. I will take the information, but I do not get as much (if anything) from it because it is one more thing to read. Although I enjoy reading, it is not my favorite way to learn, so I’ll put it on the back burner. If he would tell me what excited him about the information or how it is relevant to me/us, I am can absorb it quickly and am more likely to pick up what he’s handed me in visual format so I can learn more.

Because I can pick things up from the auditory messages that surround me, I assume he’s hearing it too. When I share information, I try to explain it to him and it goes right over his head. He’d prefer if I’d write it down or send him a link.

Now that we are spending a lot more time together (the kids are gone), we are relearning how to communicate and knowing our learning styles and preferences is making the transition a lot easier. Now I understand why he gives out books for gifts and why he prefers to print and share, so I’ll send him links, etc. He’s learning too, and we talk a lot more. He understands I need to have things explained verbally in order for me to get it. You know, I think our marriage will work after all.

You can’t beat writers

Say what you will about writers, I think they’re among the best. So what if they work in their pajamas, wield their craft unshaven or keep irregular hours? They have some, in fact quite a few, redeeming qualities.

Writers think. Regardless if their passion is fiction or non-fiction, they combine their creative talent and language skill as a master builder. They construct a foundation of sentences and paragraphs until they communicate their idea or story, one that could potentially change the world. Like a renowned artist, writers apply colorful language to the blank page and educate, engage or entertain their readers beyond themselves. For good or for bad, writers make you think, even for a brief time.

Writers understand the process can be slow and tedious including a lot of waiting time that may lead to rejections, yet they do what they can to help their writing siblings to avoid their pitfalls. They often meet together both online and off to share their works in progress seeking both affirmation and feedback for ways to improve. In this forum, they also communicate lessons learned about the writing process or making a go of it as a business. Writers share resources and tricks of the trade to save others the hassle of going it alone.

Writers aren’t perfect, but most care about their craft and its impact on others. Those who’ve achieved a measure of success have also experienced rejection – likely a lot of it. Yet with the fortitude of their character and the encouragement of their writing partners, they forge ahead and get better.  You just can’t beat writers.

What’s the point?

Have you ever listened to a speaker, participated in a conversation or read a letter, email, article or book and come away with an overwhelming sense of wonder? Not because the message provided deeper insight or new perspectives, but because you had no idea what the person was talking about? It’s happened to me too. 

Excellent communication is critical because it can make or break relationships. Whether at personal, business or even national levels, communicating clearly (either verbally or in writing) requires a concentrated effort. If the speaker or writer fails to make a point, it becomes an exercise in futility.

If you’re the person with the message, it’s important for you to know your target audience – not just by name, title or demographic. Whether we realize it or not, we sometimes categorize people using statistics or broad-based generalities, yet each person is an individual with needs and wants the same as we have. As much as possible, we must understand who they are and how they think. What’s important to them, why do they need to know what we’re telling them, and how will all of this benefit them? If we have an idea of who they are, then we can speak their language to get our point across. 

Communication is a multi-party process. If you’re in the listening/receiving chair, (and I’m speaking to myself here), have the courage to ask for clarification if you don’t understand. If we don’t, we’ve wasted our time and may miss out on something really important.