Surveys regularly show communication to be the biggest barrier to successful relationships, whether with your spouse, children, friends or colleagues. Yet few people know how to get a handle on this issue. Health and happiness can only be strengthened by getting to the root of the problem – giving people advanced tools to communicate more directly and effectively with each other.
This is not a simple matter of being more articulate. It means becoming aware of our patterns of communication – and the traps and pitfalls that we lead ourselves into.
1. People assume they’re good communicators when in fact they’re not. In fact, most people never take a course in interpersonal communication or learn basic skills. Instead, they assume they’re doing it well because they’ve been communicating all their lives.
2. We each have a particular style, and this style influences all of our communication and decision-making. There are four different ways of seeing the world, and most people only use one or two. Without understanding all four, your ability to communicate is compromised.
3. The better communicator you are, the more happy, successful and healthy you will be.
Armed with an understanding of these styles, people can improve their interactions very quickly.
Where we’ve succeeded in introducing the tools of straight talk, we’ve seen surprising results.
Management teams become more adept at thinking and managing in innovative ways. Companies become more skilled in managing difficult projects. One organization experienced a 20 percent increase in profits the year after we introduced these tools — and its managers attributed the increase entirely to their new way of working together.
If straight talk were easy, there’d be no need to write a book about it. But straight talk is hard.
Most people are lazy communicators even in the simplest situations — managing their time, laying out a task, setting goals. People communicate in clumsy ways because it’s easier than communicating expertly.
If we communicate ineffectively in normal situations, imagine how we behave in a challenging situation.
Imagine what we do when the topic is “Where is my business going?” or “What is happening to our industry?” In those situations, we’re very likely to respond in ways that are exactly contrary to what is needed.
In situations where straight talk is most needed, it is most likely to be elusive.
Think of the costs of inexpert communication. Think of the opportunities, misdirected resources, and underutilized human capital. One CEO totaled up the bill for his organization’s ineffectiveness and put it at 15 percent of total revenues. In his case, that means $45 million in lost revenues each year because his company didn’t communicate about key issues head-on.
As you start to learn the tools and principles of straight talk, discuss them with your colleagues.
Try them out in your meetings. Above all, trust these tools to work for you. This may mean changing your way of thinking. But at the heart of straight talk lies a willingness to accept that change is the only thing we can count on.
The spirit of Straight Talk is embodied, oddly enough, in a sign that I once saw hanging in the customer service office at the Amtrak station in Los Angeles:
The six most important words: “I admit I made a mistake.”
The five most important words: “You did a good job.”
The four most important words: “What is your opinion?”
The three most important words: “If you please.”
The two most important words: “Thank you.”
The one most important word: “We.”
The least important word: “I”
In the next lesson, we’ll look at What It Means To Be a Competent Communicator.
The highly acclaimed Straight Talk® book details techniques for improving communication, cutting through conflict, and creating successful organizations.
The Straight Talk® survey provides insight into your style of communication and how you can communicate more effectively. You can invite your co-workers to compare styles and create a Team Profile. It is absolutely free.
Our experts develop customized Straight Talk® workshops for any organization. Workshops can be crafted to focus on communication styles, managing decisions, or resolving conflicts.
The Straight Talk® video course presents 10 lessons to improve your communication with Straight Talk. Great for sharing with teams. This opens the door to an entirely new kind of organizational culture.
|Lesson 2: What It Means To Be A Competent Communicator|