Carol Barkes is a conflict resolution expert, mediator, national speaker, educator and bestselling author who uniquely applies neuroscience to the fields of conflict resolution and negotiations. Her expert perspective is always fresh and relevant.
Talking Points from Carol Barkes on
How to Fine-Tune Workplace Communication:
Effective communication is an integral part of having positive, successful interactions with the people around us. For some, good communication skills seems to come naturally, and that’s great. But for others, it is a challenge to communicate in a way that both articulates our thoughts and doesn’t rock the boat. Poor communication can lead to arguments, loss of opportunities, hurt feelings——and the list goes on and on. In the workplace it could mean conflicts with the people we work with and for, loss of credibility, a decrease in production, and other negative-affecting career circumstances. Here’s some tips on how to fine-tune workplace communication:
1) Conflict in the workplace is similar to family conflict in that conflicts can build over time as people have continual negative interactions with a person. Consequently, when a situation arises with someone we’ve had problems with in the past, it is very easy to blow the current problem out of proportion. It is important to try to look at each occurrence with its own lens so past experiences don’t negatively bias our approach.
2) Many supervisors solve issues by telling their employees what they want done. This creates a reliance on leaders to do the thinking which can frustrate everyone involved. Instead, effective leaders should work to teach their staff how to think about thinking. Instead of answering questions and providing solutions, leaders could instead ask questions that help their staff think through the situation themselves. Over time, this frees up the supervisors to higher level tasks and better prepares staff to take future leadership roles.
3) Connect the dots. When we do not have all the pieces to a situation, our brains tend to fill in the dots in a negative manner. To prevent this, make sure people aren’t left guessing about what may occur or what has happened. Consider for instance the statement, “Can I see you in my office.” Typically, when we hear this, it generates a stress response. Our negatively oriented brains perceive a potential threat and we go negative wondering what went wrong or how did the boss find out, etc. These flight or flight responses decrease productivity and could be resolved easily by giving a few more details.
4) Practice the SCARF change model created by UCLA’s David Rock. This model is a great way to help staff embrace change. Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness.
5) Decrease in-groups and out-groups by helping teams find commonalities. When people feel left out, they feel social pain in the same manner we experience physical pain. In fact, it can be treated with traditional pain killers. Make sure your team is cohesive by finding times to communicate and making sure you are really listening to the needs of each team member. Inclusion and value go a long way towards making your team stronger.
Understanding and incorporating these tips will have lasting, positive effects at work.
Carol Barkes, CPM, is a trend-setting mediator, business executive and educator specializing in the use of neuroscience to improve business performance, interpersonal communications, negotiation and conflict resolution processes for optimally successful results. She is also a speaker, educator, and author of the bestselling book: Success Breakthroughs: Leading Entrepreneurs and Professionals Reveal Their Secrets for Breaking Through to Success.
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