Does No One Understand You At Work? [It’s Not What You Think]

How To Complete The Communications Loop

I was facilitating a class on communications several years ago as part of a leadership training program at one of my client’s company. During the workshop I heard one of the front line superintendents say something truly remarkable.

This individual remarked, “I don’t need much management training. I just tell them and they do it.”

Perhaps there’s a variety of issues you might take with this individual, but the one I focused on was the poor success rate in communication through just telling somebody something. It does not matter what tone of voice you use, how loud you say it or how many times you say it. Telling someone something is not a very effective form of communication.

Exploring Verbal Communication Skills in the Workplace

Communications is a very complex area. It’s complexity is compounded when individuals are in their places of business.

One of the reasons for this complication is the different levels of rank each person has. At the top of the business you have the “big cheese” and then at the very bottom of the business you have the brand-new “rookie”.

It’s very difficult, in most cases, for the brand-new individual to have a truly insightful conversation with the owner or chief executive. This is a clear barrier to communications in most instances because of the two different levels of experience and position power.

Often and sadly, people in management and leadership roles do a lot of telling instead of real communication.

I have located a terrific video on this very topic and I encourage you to watch it right away. The facilitator is Dana Brownlee, MBA, PMP. She is a professional corporate trainer and coach.

The individuals in the film clip have been tasked with the responsibility of explaining what a drawing looks like to another individual. The rules were to use words only. No body language and no feedback.

The results were that every listener produced wildly different images. It didn’t matter how clearly the speaker articulated or how thoroughly they explained things. All the results were unacceptable. The drawings looked nothing at all like the original.

I have a variety of similar communications exercises and the results are always the same. Verbalization alone does not work. I am sure you have heard someone say, perhaps even you, “I told her exactly what I wanted, but she simply did not do it right.”

This illustrates how long important nonverbal communications is. Dana points out in the video, and as I remember, words represent 7% of communications and nonverbal represent the other 93%.  Nonverbal communications includes such things as tone of voice, posture, expression, body language, gestures and emphasis.

In the today’s workplaces e-mail communications and text messaging are used far too often and are frequently unsatisfactory. The simple explanation for this is that the sender of e-mails and texts are using only words (7%).

But that does not tell the whole story about communications failures.

No communications are totally acceptable and of high quality unless there’s some sort of feedback mechanism included. In a one-on-one communications situation this would simply be someone explaining something, the other asking questions for clarification and the speaker continuing until satisfactory results are reached. This feedback loop is not generally part of e-mails and text messages.

Even if there is some feedback it’s still all only words and no nonverbal.

Well I’m not saying to cease using e-mails and text messages, I am encouraging you to realize that it’s an inadequate communications technique.

Make certain that you utilize other high quality techniques which provide for completion of the overall communications loop.