We’ve all heard the saying, “Loose lips sink ships”. Quite often, those “ships” we sink with our communication style faux pas are relationships.
Gossip, personal attacks and violating trust may be the first offenses that come to mind when we think of ways that communication can ruin relationships with colleagues. But it’s not always that ugly. Subtle deficiencies can be just as damaging, such as failing to give people our undivided attention or missing opportunities to provide recognition for a job well-done.
In a study commissioned by French computer manufacturer, BULL, 40 percent of project managers cited poor communication as a cause of project failure. Though today’s society is preoccupied with speed and efficiency, long-term relationships and professional success are rarely built in 140 characters or less.
Here are five things you can do right now to strengthen your professional relationships and results through effective communication.
It’s been said that God gave us one mouth and two ears so that we could listen twice as much as we talk. When people are talking, are you really listening? Work to give those speaking your undivided attention, resisting the urge to multi-task – physically or mentally. If you don’t have time for the conversation they want to have, be honest, and schedule a time when you’ll be able to give them the attention they deserve.
Don’t be a know-it-all
Even though you have a lot to contribute, you don’t always have to be the loudest or most frequent voice in the room. If you’re in a leadership role, give your team time to process and offer solutions before chiming in. They’ll feel more empowered and invested in the actions that follow.
Customize the golden rule
We all learned in kindergarten to treat others the way we want to be treated. You may enjoy two-hour weekly status update meetings, but that may not be true for the rest of your team. Although I lean more on the creative side, spending a decade working with engineers and Ph.D. chemists taught me how to structure my communications based on the needs of my audience, which was more logically driven. How do you know what your audience wants? Ask. And once they tell you, be sure to deliver. And if you need to deviate, let them know why.
Keep the right people in the loop
You don’t have to cc the entire company on every message you send, but take a moment to think about who needs to be aware of the information you’re sharing. Before making major changes to a process, get feedback from those who will be impacted most, even if they aren’t decision makers.You’ll score major points with the folks who may be most vital to the success of your efforts.
Look for opportunities to affirm others
When someone comes up with a great idea or takes a brave stance, tell them. Don’t wait for special occasions; send a random note or text message with an encouraging word or just to let someone know that you appreciate them.
From texting to instant messaging to Twitter, we have a multitude of tools at our fingertips that allow us to communicate with people around the globe. But when it comes to maintaining good relationships with the people we work with, faster isn’t always better. Invest in the success of your company, work group and individual career by investing your time in effective communications.