This article is about communication. The number one answer when people are asked about what’s wrong with their company is: communication. How is this possible in our electronic world where everyone is always on the phone, texting, tweeting, insta-gramming, face booking (if that is a word?) and every other type of social media that exists? The answer is simple. Everyone is talking but no one is listening.
I just finished reading Dale Carnegie’s book (HTWFAIP) for the third time. In the book he talks about how important listening is when it comes to building relationships. Yes, I have posted other articles about this in the past, but this article is taking a slightly different slant. Either way this is a point that needs to be brought up over and over again. Why? Because corporate communication as a whole, is still just as bad as it has been for decades.
I know this because I am just as guilty as everyone else. Each time I read Carnegie’s book I swear I am going to work on my two major flaws. One is that I have a bad habit of interrupting people when they are talking to me. I never mean any disrespect, and I really do care about what they have to say. However, in my head, I already know where they are going and what they are going to say. So in an attempt to save time, I will interrupt them and try to answer their question before it is asked. No one can know what is in someone else’s head and it doesn’t matter if I am right or wrong about what the point was they were trying to make. If I haven’t allowed them the chance to present their point, really give them a chance to be heard, they are not going to listen to what I have to say. And even if they do, they will more than likely walk away with a feeling that I don’t really care about them. It is embarrassing to me when I catch myself doing it, and I continue to struggle with eliminating this from my bad habits list. As John Maxwell once said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know you care”. Whenever someone is interrupted and unable to complete their thought, you will have a hard time convincing them that you really care no matter how much you do for them.
The other bad habit I have is that I am always trying to fix everyone’s problems. This comes from the fact that I really do want to help them. However, many times people don’t want help. They just want someone to listen to them. In John Gray’s book Men are from Mars / Women are from Venus, he explains the difference between men wanting to fix problems and women just wanting a sympathetic ear. While I don’t agree that this is true of all men and women, I do believe that everyone, at times, just wants someone to listen to them without offering advice or direction. Again, I am ashamed to say that I have not completely corrected this flaw either. However, I have made tremendous improvement and will continue my diligence in eradicating both of these habits from my repertoire, permanently.
All too often in business we get caught up in our own schedules and the demands of our jobs. We cannot allow these distractions to affect our team. It is more important than I could ever state here that your team knows you care and that you are there to help them should they need your help. However, you cannot listen to their problems if you are talking over them. Your team cannot grow if you fix all of their problems for them. With all of this in mind, sometimes the best thing you can do as a manager to communicate is to: shut up and listen. Putting yourself in the other person’s place and fully understanding their position before you do anything, is communication 101!
Author’s Note: I have exposed some of my flaws in this article to help illustrate how important good communication is amongst your team. Please do not take the time to send me comments bashing me about these flaws, since I think I have pretty clearly explained that I know they are not acceptable. However, just like with anything, the first step to fixing a problem is identifying and admitting you have that problem.