Hitting the Communication Bulls Eye

By Fatmanur Erdogan, Hurriyet Daily News (click here for Hitting The Communication Bulls Eye)

As a communications professional with a background in management, marketing and psychology and who has been working as an expat most of her life, I have come to realize that most top managers around the world tend to overestimate the strength of their communication skills. They often think that since they communicate at work, and since they are successful at their jobs, they must be good communicators.

However, more often than not they are wrong. They are rising through the ranks for various reasons, but they’d go even further in their careers if they worked on their communication a bit. What are they doing wrong? All too often they are talking to other people as if they were talking to themselves.

What they need to remember is just as different people have different personalities, different people have different communication styles, too. Expecting others to communicate the same way you do is as unrealistic as expecting everyone to have the same kind of personality you do. Managers stuck in that unrealistic mindset get less of their message across, and only hear a fraction of the messages being sent their way.

The key to improving communication with your coworkers is to understand their different personality types. You don’t need to be a psychologist to understand personality types. All you need is some basic observational skills and the willingness to adjust your communication techniques for different types of people. Try starting by having your team members take a quick personality test so you better understand each others’ styles. You don’t need fancy or expensive tools to do this, you can get started with the free tools available at a site like www.personalitytype.com.

Once you know about your coworkers’ personality types, you’ll see there are ways you can tailor your style a bit for each one. More of things you want to say will get across to your people, and you’ll receive more of their messages, too. Don’t try to hoard this knowledge – the more every member of your team understands about every other member, the better this approach will work. You’ll find your team is far more effective when everyone is communicating well with each other.

Take this approach one step further by learning to recognize your colleagues’ different learning styles, too. Just as different people communicate differently, different people learn differently. Some people learn best by reading. Others learn best by listening, and others by doing. When you understand your colleagues’ learning styles, your explanations will be more effective. For example, you’ll know that your long email outlining a new merchandising strategy will go over well with your colleagues that learn by reading, but if one of the team’s key players is an aural learner, you will be able to anticipate that he won’t absorb the information as well.

Not only are people generally unaware of others’ learning styles, they often aren’t even aware of their own. When you introduce this personality-based approach to understanding others, you’ll also be helping your employees understand themselves better, too.

This approach to communication is about valuing and respecting others. We all want to feel valued and respected, and your employees are no different. When you take the time to recognize their different styles, you’ll start connecting with them better. They will absorb more of what you are trying to say, and you will start hearing more of the messages they are sending to you. Your team will move forward more efficiently than you ever thought possible.

Expecting everyone to communicate and learn the way you do is sure to hold you back in today’s workplace. It might seem obvious once you start thinking about it, but there are still plenty of executives who haven’t seen the light. Learn how to connect with your coworkers better, and you’ll add a powerful competitive advantage to your toolbox of managerial skills.

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