The inability to communicate can destroy a sale, a business relationship, a career. Those who can communicate with skill do better. The success level a person enjoys in life is shaped by how effective they are as a communicator—the more influential the person’s ability to communicate, the greater their potential for success. People who cannot communicate do not do well on a job, business, or life.
The fast-paced world of business requires a leader to be aware, alert, and efficient. The ability to masterfully utilize different communication methods plays a significant role in demonstrating competence, intelligence, and trustworthiness for those who follow them.
The inability to communicate is an affliction that blocks the road to any desired future. Just as driving a car is an acquired skill, communicating effectively can also be learned and developed by those who want to have this skill.
Imagine being able to sit without tension or nervousness, able to look at someone comfortably while communicating with them about a future business opportunity, or being able to talk with an employee about an issue you have without getting defensive.
How much further could your ability to work effectively with others improve if you could communicate your ideas without getting tongue-tied? Would you be in better control of your accountabilities if you had this confidence?
What if you acquired the ability to acknowledge a person’s communication, so they felt that they had been heard and understood? Would your relations with the office improve? This capability is as simple yet as vital to effective communication, and that is the skill of listening.
What if you could easily get a silent person to speak, quickly steer a person back onto the subject, or smoothly get out of answering a disruptive question? What if you were able to fully respond and communicate to an upset person without getting upset yourself? Would this contribute to your leadership competence? How about your confidence on the job?
Communication is not an advanced or graduate-level skill. Anyone who wants to can learn to communicate. Anyone who chooses to can learn to guide and shape communication dialogue. Anyone who puts forth the effort will achieve more success in business through continuously improving communication skills. While these abilities may appear difficult to achieve, they are not if you desire to be a more influential communicator.
The above visual represents three communication enablers that are foundational in becoming an effective communicator. Being able to gauge another’s Reality and Affinity helps one answer the following questions:
- How should I talk to people?
- How can I help people appreciate what I am talking about?
- How can I give new ideas to people, so they understand my thinking?
- How can I find what people are thinking about?
- How can I better work through workplace issues?
The RAD triangle pulls together three related communication elements. The first enabler is reality, the second is affinity, and the third and the most important for effective communication is dialogue.
By reality, we mean “the solid objects, the real things in life.” This includes our views and perceptions with which we make sense of our world. When our reality is similar, we are said to have a shared mindset. People communicating in this state will be highly effective if they have a high affinity for the topic. Those with different views of reality will have difficulty communicating until they develop a shared understanding of each other’s reality on the given topic of conversation.
By affinity, we mean “emotional connection.” We mean “the feeling of affection or lack of it. High-affinity people on a given topic will exhibit energy in a conversation, while low-affinity people will want the conversation to end. What you have an affinity for and what you don’t significantly impact what you pay attention to, what interests you, and what doesn’t.
By dialogue, we mean “an interchange of ideas between two people.” There are two kinds of dialogue, both depending on the viewpoint assumed. Effective communicators make sure there is both “outflowing” and “inflowing” dialogue. Ineffective communicators will push the outflow and ignore the inflow.
A person talking to somebody is or is at least trying to communicate to that person. The person who is being talked to is receiving communication from that person if that is their intent. This results in the person who has been talked to now talking and the first person who spoke now receiving inflow communication.
As a result of dialogue being exchanged, a conversation has developed, alternating outflowing and inflowing communication. There is a basic rule here: those who would outflow must inflow: they who inflow must outflow. When this rule is out of balance, in either direction, communication difficulties arise. This almost always is the result of a disconnect on affinity, sometimes reality.
A person who is only outflowing dialoguing is not communicating at all. To communicate entirely, they must accept inflow as part of their outflow. A person who is inflowing dialogue entirely is, again, out of order. For communication to occur, they must outflow, not just inflow.
Most objections people have to social and human relationships are found to violate the basic rules of communication. For example, a person in a compulsive or obsessive state will be dismayed when they don’t get answers. Similarly, anyone being talked to is dismayed when they are not allowed to give their replies.
Another example involves talking to an angry person. An angry person will communicate at a level of emotion that repels others from talking with them. As a result, their reality is very poor. Most likely, whatever they are apparently “being angry about” is not likely what has made them mad. What makes it difficult is an angry person loses their ability to reason because their reality is clouded by negative emotion.
When two people are considerate, patient, and interested in each other, there is likely to be a good affinity for dialogue. This creates one of the best conditions for two people to talk together in truth and confidence. Before two people can feel an affinity for each other, they must, to some degree, be honest. Before two people can be natural to each other, they must at least see each other, which is, in itself, a form of communication.
These three communication elements are interdependent one upon the other. When any one of the three drops, the other two will drop also. When one rises, the other two will rise also. The vital point to consider is that it is only necessary to improve one corner of this dynamic triangle, to improve the other two corners.
Conversely, if two of the triangle corners are aligned, and as a result, you stay in communication with each other, you will improve the third element, even though it was misaligned when you started communicating with each other.
Effective communicators will stay in communication even when their affinity and reality differ. They know that these other two corners of the triangle will come into the conversation if they can stay in rational dialogue, particularly when the desired communication improves business results. Communication is the glue that will hold those employed in the business together. The lack of respectful communication is like a corrosive solvent for all things in that it dissolves whatever it touches.
You know the effectiveness of communication across your business is improving when you are experiencing the following:
- Continuously improving interchange or exchange of ideas between two people.
- People on the receiving end of communication demonstrate they understand by restating what has been communicated.
- When you issue a policy, give an order, train an employee, they will understand, resulting in more action and production.
- Work orders accurately reflect what the customer signed off on and are accurately completed by the technician so that the job can be accurately invoiced.
- Your goals, vision, and ideals are being realized.
When you don’t see the above examples, you have a business at risk of multiple misunderstandings through each day, week, month, and year—any misunderstanding results in less communication, less understanding, less production, and fewer profits.
The most common sources of misunderstanding leading to an ineffective exchange of ideas are caused by the following:
- Verbal instruction only with no written or visual support
- Supporting documentation is not clearly communicated
- Employees don’t understand what the direction has to do with their job
- Language or literacy problems
- Failure to adjust when one has a high affinity and a low reality or high reality and low affinity for the topic of conversation.
A quick and straightforward way to assess the effectiveness of your communication to something that you have said or done is to inform the other person that their statement or action has been noted, understood, and received.
Acknowledgments are powerful
A good acknowledgment communicates to someone who has spoken that what they said has been heard. This common courtesy is not being offered as it used to be because most people do not acknowledge others or their communications.
An acknowledgment is a simple, professional response that indicates you understood what someone said. It can be as simple as “Got It,” a nod, or even a smile. It is good manners; it is communication.
When you get an acknowledgment from a team member, you don’t have to wonder if they hear you. This allows you to move on because shared understanding exists. Anytime this is the case, you are free to move on and put your attention on something else.
More solutions, fewer problems
One definition of a problem is two or more opposing and conflicting views on the same subject. One of the first consequences of a problem is indecision.
A solution is something that solves a problem or causes a problem to disappear. To resolve a problem, one must be able to confront the situation.
Confront is the action of facing, without flinching or trying to avoid difficult people or situations.
Someone with a high a confront need because something is going as expected needs to control their emotions and be calm with people to engage others in helping solve the problem. Those who excel at this know that making things confrontational makes it more about fighting or going head-to-head with someone than about solving the problem.
When a willing employee has all the necessary data, the only reason they would not follow through on a policy or order would be their inability to confront things. To people with less confront, things are more complex; there are more problems.
People with high confront see more simplicity and more solutions. One of the tools they use to enroll people in seeing their solutions is the RAD Triangle. This simple system coupled with the KRA Triangle is two practical tools to help your employees become more solution-oriented. Click here to learn more about how the KRA Triangle helps people contribute more to a business.
What do you cost your business?
If you aren’t making the money, you should click the link below to receive a free review of how much you cost yourself by not being an effective communicator.