Effective Communication in a Team [part 2]: my 7 rules for improving interpersonal relations
In my last article on communication I’ve discussed about my 5 general rules of communicating within a team. We talked about the importance of being prepared, of writing clearly, choosing the right communication channel… and also body language.. and even spicing it up with emoticons or memes. Now let’s talk about the importance of building strong interpersonal relations with your team in order to communicate even better.
As you know, my entire Nozbe team works remotely - we all work from home. That’s why we decided to have an all-company meeting in person every 6 months. We’ve just been to one earlier this month. I’ll write about it later, but suffice to say, it’s great to be able to meet in person everyone you’re working with every single day and spend some quality time with them. It helps of course, that we do have an amazing team :-)
This is one of the moments we can build stronger relationships with each other and these help us communicate through tasks better throughout the year:
Rules related to interpersonal relations
1. Mutual respect is fundamental
Effective communication has to respect any differences in terms of characters, mind-sets, abilities, etc.
2. Controlling emotions
… or rather: their careful expression.
At work, slip-ups, mistakes and conflicts can occur. In such cases it is important to act accordingly: express your feelings, dissatisfaction or frustration (don’t bottle them up) but remember not to offend or hurt other people. Focus on the problem, not the person.
In communication, the boundary of openness and honesty should be determined by our consideration for other people’s privacy. We shouldn’t talk about third parties in their absence unless it’s absolutely necessary – for example, during a recruitment process when we should openly exchange observations about candidates.
Gossiping can seem like fun, making us feel more connected to the ones we’re gossiping with. But when we’re gossiping with someone about John, how do we know if that person isn’t gossiping with John about us? Gossiping is just a temporary “entertainment” which results in weakened trust.
4. Lack of assertiveness
Saying “yes” when you really mean “no” always means trouble. For you and the others. I should know, I’m a recovering “yes-man”. When you take on too much at once, there’s a good chance that you will fail. And that’s much worse than saying “no” politely.
Moreover, despite being assertive and strongly defending your position, you won’t always succeed in convincing someone to your way of thinking. Nevertheless, you can increase your chances and achieve a better compromise. The secret lies in clear and polite formulation of your needs.
5. Trust your intuition
…but always try to confirm speculations. Ask questions, listen more than you speak, and let go of prejudices and stereotypes.
It also works the other way round: always make sure that you’re well understood and assessed by your communication partner.
There comes a time when each of us has to express their negative opinion on a given subject, give negative feedback on someone’s bad performance. For many people, avoiding such situations is extremely tempting. After all, someone may feel offended, stop liking us or run a “black PR” campaign against us. However, staying silent about your co-workers’ errors and pretending that the conflict doesn’t exist when it’s already going at full speed is the worst thing you can do to disrupt communication within the company. As a consequence, small problems will develop into serious ones.
It is thus worth reading and learning about how to give negative feedback to your co-workers in a positive way. You can do it with humor but show understanding for the other person’s weaknesses and appreciation for his or her efforts - if they’ve been made :)
As somebody once said:
There is no failure, there’s only feedback.
7. Keep improving communication
If you do adhere to the rules I wrote about in my last post, you’ll build stronger interpersonal relations, too. People appreciate when someone takes good care of the way they communicate together. And you should especially try to improve it with people you work closest with. With my assistant we constantly review the way we communicate and do things, to make sure we’re the most effective and we help each other the most.
Question: What do you do to improve interpersonal relations with folks in your team?