Is communication an art or is it actually a science?
This is a centuries-old debate and one may continue to argue the validity of both sides of the question to the extent of reaching the end of human patience.
While art can be understood as personalizing the knowledge in a creative way – painting the portrait of someone, for example – science is the systematic knowledge of the world as it is – an ID photo of the same person.
The two pieces of work would depict the same face but through different methods, similarly, communication can be both an art and a science, depending on the personalization of what is said and how it is delivered.
Regardless of the conclusion – if there ever was one – to that debate, there definitely are a few ways to enhance the way we communicate, maybe not to the degree of artistry, but enough to get our point across and ensure the meaning of our speech is the one intended.
Get the basics right
The Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl said it best: between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
We must learn to respond and not to react to our thoughts and to the environment that forces us to face different stimuli in every moment of our lives without even realizing it. These stimuli can be anything: a rebuke from the boardroom or from someone in our family, a stressful situation in which we must decide something important on the spot, a difficult conversation with a business partner, or even that driver cutting us off on the highway and forcing us to stamp on the brakes.
There is only a slight, nuanced difference between what it means to respond and what it means to react to anything we are dealing with, but understanding it can be the decisive factor between communicating effectively instead of just speaking at someone.
When we are responding to a situation it means we are observing our reaction and, instead of letting ourselves be controlled by and react on impulse, we let it go and decide our response based on what we really believe the best course of action is.
To highlight this in the simplest of situations, instead of angrily reminding your child for the umpteenth time to stop running around the house because they broke something again, take a step back to notice your annoyance and then decide on what your reply would be to make the most of the situation.
Granted – as with any advice, it is easier said than done, but as a habit we’ve developed it only takes plenty of practice. One thing is sure: it is definitely worth any effort as the effects are immediate.
Use the tools in your tech inventory
In the current unusual working climate, as leaders of our teams, we must continue to come up with innovative and practical ideas to ensure there is a strong connection between employees. Building on basic work-related interactions in order to foster a better collaboration that drives trust and relatedness could be a great asset for any team.
For example, creating social groups to keep the conversation going in the workspace and outside of it can help people feel closer to each other. Some of the platforms that would enable that are LinkedIn with its groups function, Slack, WhatsApp, Workspace by Amazon, etc.
Socially engaging challenges such as challenging coworkers to run a 5k the same day as you, sharing the latest pancake recipe, or having a best home-office photo competition would be a great way to develop relationships and enhance communication.
At the same time, the visual aspect of social interactions mustn’t be forgotten or brushed aside and tools like Zoom, Hangouts, GoToMeeting or Skype must be at employees’ disposal at any time. Nonverbal communication is as important in the conversational equation as verbal communication.
Besides these tools, platforms like Trello or Monday offer a very easy and straightforward way to manage work. They create and maintain visibility over individual or group progress, as well as brainstorm for development ideas and plan ahead for new projects. Keeping communication and interactions simple is a sure method to drive efficiency.
Mastering the above response-led technique and making the most out of the tools we have at our disposal will help position ourselves as the genuine leaders of the team through purposeful communication, enabling us to lead with success.