Did you know that if you say one thing to five different people, you’re having five completely different conversations at the same time?
As it turns out, listeners aren’t capable of hearing your words in their pure and intended form because they have an “internal dialogue” going on that competes with your message.
Business coach David Zelman says, “Everyone possesses a unique set of internal conversations. Outcomes aren’t based on what your employees are being told, but what they are telling themselves.”
In his recent book, If I Can, You Can: Transformation Made Easy, Zelman advises leaders on how to be better understood and reminds us that our employees’ actions tend to correlate less with what we’re saying and more with what they’re telling themselves.
Here’s a link to a specific example of this phenomenon. Check it out if your internal dialogue is telling you to get more clarification on Zelman’s assertion. Otherwise, join me in perusing (and then using) the excellent tips I stumbled across in this article by Marla Tabaka in Inc. Magazine. She summarized Zelman’s tips, which I’ve shared below:
1. Have conversations that are focused on the future, not the past.
Getting people aligned on a vision or common purpose is one of the primary roles of a leader. Too many conversations revolve around explaining or justifying why something did or did not get done. This is a waste of time and energy. The past is behind us. Build a practice of focusing on the future, of what needs to happen to achieve the vision and goals. And always establish time frames in which goals will be achieved.
2. Instead of issuing directives, have a dialogue.
By having employees participate in a dialogue that creates goals, strategy and time frames, you are encouraging them to have a higher level of ownership of the corporate objectives. Create a collaborative culture and people will assume responsibility willingly.
3. Don’t assume you have been heard.
Communication requires both speaking and listening. The excuse, “It’s not my fault; I told them what I wanted,” just doesn’t cut it. Unless you ask for feedback, such as, “What’s your interpretation of what I just said?” there is too much room for misunderstanding.
4. Create a culture of authentic communication.
While transparency and inclusiveness are important variables in establishing effective communication, maintaining integrity in communications is even more so. Organizations must build a culture where people are authentically committed to what they say. A promise is a promise. A commitment is a commitment.
5. Acknowledge and appreciate good work.
When people are recognized and acknowledged for their contribution, they are more likely to continue to create value in the organization. If you stop acknowledging people, they lose their sense of belonging and making a difference. Leaders who succeed in sustaining effective communication throughout their organization build high-performing teams and thriving companies. How do you achieve your best results?
Maurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.