Have you ever been pulled into a team meeting to discuss a project and while the objectives are laid out and everyone leaves with an assignment, there is still some confusion as to each individual role? Before you know it, the team must meet again because some employees interpreted their task differently or the message was diluted when it was shared with those not in attendance. Sometimes this happens because the initial communication was rushed or those with questions failed to ask. This creates problems that can snowball, impacting project completion.
So how do we combat the weakening of our message? Here are my five tips for creating an environment for positive and concise dialogue:
- Meet face-to-face. – Whenever possible, meet others face-to-face. Meeting in person can allow you to clearly express your thoughts and show respect and empathy, especially when body language can play a major role in how messages are interpreted.
- Be cognizant of words and actions. – Pay attention to the choice of words and actions you use. Some words can come across stronger and negatively, so choose wisely. For example, it’s best to offer positive criticism rather than negative. You might explain to a writer, “in the future you may want to consider using a thesaurus to find other words to improve your story, rather than say, “you used the word “enticing” 10 times in the blog. Can’t you come up with anything else?”
- Embrace individuality. – Show respect and interest in what others bring to the table. We all have diverse backgrounds, values and lifestyles and each person plays an important role in the outcome of a project or in developing a solution to a problem. Learning to appreciate others for who they are and the experiences they have will ease tension and allow you to shine as a leader while creating a productive work environment.
- Encourage team collaboration. – The ability to bounce ideas off of others and provide an environment for two-way communication shows that you care and that you are listening. Messages are received differently depending on your communication style and by opening up the opportunity for dialogue, projects will have much better outcomes.
- Eliminate silos. – In some cases this may be difficult, but sharing information and knowledge about the direction of an organization will allow employees to have a better, clear understanding of their role and how it fits into the big picture.
Make sure that the communication is always coming from a credible source and that it is shared appropriately. Creating a cooperative team environment that is open to ongoing dialogue and collaboration is a win-win because it taps into the strengths of everyone’s skill set. It also creates an atmosphere for open and direct responses and thoughts that in the long run will improve morale, increase productivity and contribute to the growth of the company.