Effective communication, cohesiveness, trust, productivity increase, constructive critique are all traits that eliminate barriers. Always assume positive intent when communicating to your peers, colleagues or subordinates and use non-judgmental statements such as ‘I’m having trouble understanding you’ or ‘You did not explain it properly’.
Keep open mind, use open-ended questions and ask before forming opinions.
In addition, state positive intent to solve the problem and look for areas of agreement while remaining positive.
Above were the do’s however here are some of the don’ts to avoid that are clear barriers to communication:
- screening (avoiding and fending critique)
- getting stuck in the rut (sticking to what worked before without re-evaluating)
- bluffing (e.g. ‘of course, I know the answer’)
Supportive listening involves following techniques or should we call them traits
- inquiring – use open-ended queries; these require more than yes/no answers
- acknowledging – use words and phrases like ‘yes’, ‘I see’, ‘aha’, nodding of a head
- reflecting and paraphrasing – this involves repeating what speaker has said in the form of a question while paraphrasing
Assertive speaking is not the same as aggressive speaking and is more like non-passive style of communication. This involves using ‘I’ statement while suggesting some sort of a win/win solution. There is nothing wrong with being open and direct while feeling positive – your self-esteem will rise.
Here are the four steps of giving constructive feedback that are sure to give you results:
- Detail specific observable behaviour.
example: ‘You haven’t provided me with reports.’
- Explain how you feel about that.
example: ‘I feel agitated.’
- Express your need
example: ‘I need 8 hours to complete my side of report.’
- Request specific desired change.
example: ‘Hear me out, could you come in early to complete this tomorrow?’
This flow could be put in a form of ‘insert here’ statement as follows
When _____, I feel _____, because I _____. Would you be willing to ____?
Being able to receive feedback gracefully is also a valuable trait so
- verify (paraphrase, don’t explain or seek excuses)
- clarify if needed and finally
- acknowledge by thanking for feedback even if it is not constructive