October 6, 2016 by Jeff Lowen
According to Small Business Trends, there are twenty ways to communicate effectively in the workplace. Then, there’s Inc.com that boasts five of them. CIO.com says that there are eight. The list of self-proclaimed gurus and staffers articles goes on and on.
It all reminds me of a saying my dad would bellow when I needed his advice to make a decision. He’d say, “Son, there are many ways to skin a cat. Keep it simple.” Whether he actually ever skinned a cat is unknown to me, but each time he told me this, I knew it was coming, and I wasn’t sure if I just needed to hear it again, or if I was angry that he made complex decisions seem so simple.
Fast forward to today’s world and we find ourselves in an ever increasing complex society. Where we pride ourselves on one-liners like, “If it’s too good to be true, it is…” and, “It can’t be that simple…” Could it be that our paradigm has shifted to accept that things are usually difficult and complicated?
When it comes to communication, everyone does it. However, learning to be effective at it is another story. If you read all the articles I cited above (Just Google ‘How to communicate’), you’ll end up being lost at sea with no rescue in sight. Unless of course, you’re the over-complicator in your circle of friends… I like to keep things simple, myself. There’s just too much information out there and my brain space real estate is valuable property.
So here’s two rules ~ Yes, I said two. “2…” Not 8 or 5 or fifteen… Only two.
- If at all possible, make all your conversations other than the ‘good mornings,’ ‘have a nice day…’ stuff – verbal. Face to face or voice to voice. I’m sorry if you’re thinking right now that you don’t have time. If you have time to send a text or email and spell and grammar check it, c’mon, you can click one little spot on your smartphone and call the other person. How many times have you labored over what to say in an email (or text) and you magically turn a 30-second conversation into nearly 10% of your day? Don’t be scared. People love to hear from you. And second…
- Criticize in private. Praise in public. Here… Let me say that again so you get it. Criticize in private. Praise in public. Do I really have to explain this? This is a cardinal rule not only for the workplace but with friends, strangers, even our children. Especially our kids! Somewhere hidden the classroom I think we are being taught that’s it’s okay to lambaste someone in front of others. Listen to me… If you’re doing that, it’s your own reputation and image that you’re tarnishing.
That’s it. Two rules. Easy.
Now, of course, there are a few FEW FEW exceptions to rule #1. Like if you’re in a legal battle or contract dispute and you want to get everything in writing. However, if you’re using this as your main communication method – emails and texts – then you are prolonging a usually less favorable outcome. It’s only when we speak directly, with respect and consideration, to the other person or party, amicably, that favorable outcomes happen.
Use these rules. Share them. Teach them to your children. Let’s not end up a society of over complicated, unable to communicate drones. Get to know the people you work with. Learn from them. If you’re the type that doesn’t like people in general, you should’ve picked another planet to live on. I hear there are many.
And one last thought… When you are communicating, are talking “to” someone, or are you talking “with” them? 🙂