Teams need managers, and managers need some soft skills - 10 keys to better communication



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Managerial communication is covered all too sparingly in audiology schools. Here’s a catch-up session based on the management science theories of Canadian academic Henry Mintzberg .

Mintzberg's theories show that time devoted to communication is proportional to level of responsibilities and the size of the company involved. Mintzberg’s work revealed that the leaders of a large company spend more than 80% of their time communicating. If you are not the head of a big firm, you cannot devote 80% of your time to communicating with your team. But you are still responsible for the company, so you might as well brush up on these ten keys to be more effective in your communication.

© Westersoe - iStock         1• Speech and body coherence. Harmonise your message and your body language.

1• Speech and body coherence

Harmonise your body language with the message to be conveyed. In all your direct relationships, make the most of your gestures. Nearly 90% of a transmitted message is reflected in the signals emitted in your gestures and your bodily attitude. If you say, “I’m very confident about the future of the centre” and you make yourself small, hunched over, arms crossed, with eyes downcast, you will send out a mixed message.

2• Empathy is a quality

Being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes improves fluidity in communication. A positive relationship is established, an emotional sympathy that creates an atmosphere of understanding and trust. Showing empathy conveys a positive image, one of a close and attentive person. “I understand your point of view” or “you’re probably right to think so” are good ways to begin making your point.

3• Communicate daily

It is essential to maintain a permanent link with your team, even if some members do not seem open to discussion. While respecting everyone’s privacy, regularly check on everyone’s state of mind. Rather than pointing out to an assistant that she still seems “pissed off”, ask her how her day was. The idea here is to multiply invitations to dialogue by opening doors. There is just no point in imputing things to emotions that others do not actually feel or cannot easily articulate.

4• “I” rather than “you”

If you have a message to convey, using “I” is preferable to “you”. When we use the first person, we speak in our own name, we use our feelings, we put forward our needs or our expectations, even our questions, allowing our interlocutors their free will. Free will can be abused through the use of the second person, which often has an accusatory tone. Rather than “you’re always messy in the office”, go for “I think we can organise ourselves better in the office.”

5• Work on your reflexes

To communicate effectively, think about how you habitually communicate: what expressions do you use most often? This exercise will help you spot your language flaws.

Examples: “There is no problem”, “I’m sure”, “I don’t know...”, “I should just...”. The second phase of this exercise is to remove these habits that parasitise your speech.

© Petar Chernaev - pixelfit - iStock      6• Choose the right moment to discuss things.

6• Choose the right moment

Some moments are better than others for communication. There may be essential matters to discuss, but things can suddenly poison the moment. So you must avoid wanting to get that message across at all costs just to unburden a problem when you know the mind of the person opposite is already cluttered by an urgent issue. Example: you want discuss a holiday schedule with a team member. You broach the issue, but your person has an imminent appointment. The matter requires cerebral availability, so it is therefore better to wait to tackle the subject.

7• Paraphrase

Asking questions and paraphrasing are important elements of effective communication. The interlocutor feels listened to, which creates a very beneficial climate of empathy and understanding. “If I understand correctly, you think that...” Paraphrasing allows us to organise the parts of the conversation that we don’t understand and to show that we are paying attention to what we are told. Don’t abuse this, however; your colleague might think you’re being patronising or mocking!

8•The non-negotiable “no”

Though some negotiating stages require you to learn how to discuss so decisions can be jointly made, there are times when you it is necessary to put your foot down. This is certainly the case if the operation of your hearing centre is undermined by the issue under discussion. Sometimes a firmer exchange is needed for someone demanding four weeks leave at a busy time. In this case, stand your ground, say that your decision is “no”. Explain why you are saying no but make it clear you will not reconsider the decision.

© skynesher - iStock        9• Never argue when emotions are high.

9• Never argue when emotions are high

Intellectual faculties are diminished when emotion invades. Under the influence of negative emotions, we rarely share constructive discussions. Learn to recognise when you feel overwhelmed and let the other person know it is best to come back to the subject at another time. You don’t debrief after a three-hour meeting full of multiplying complications and disagreements. That will only lead to conflict!

10• Know how to conclude

Being able to begin a conversation is good. But you also have to be able to put an end to it. Shy people tend to leave this step to their interlocutor, and more easily fall prey to someone talkative who won’t let them get away. Ending a conversation is not disrespectful, but learn good ways to do it, such as: “I think those are very good points about this new protocol. I’ve got some work to get on with, but let’s come back to this discussion.” Stay in control of the conversation!

Source: Audio Infos UK issue 147 March-April 2022

Rémy Pascal