Connecting with people is as critical as ever now that more people are returning to the office.
It’s time to be re-establishing relationships and developing new ones with employees and colleagues.
Today, connecting with others is a matter of art meets science – knowing when to connect and how to make it meaningful.
Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of conversation killers — poor communication habits get in the way of making great connections.
Conversation killers run amuck
“Everyone learns the technical skills required for their jobs, but not everyone places importance on conversational skills,” says Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk. “The ability to talk easily with anyone is a learned skill, not a personality trait.”
Half the battle when honing good communication skills is knowing the behaviors and habits that infringe or annoy your colleagues.
It’s important to know — and avoid them — because poor communication in the workplace leads to increased stress, delayed and failed projects, low morale and missed goals, according to research from The Economist Intelligence Unit and Lucid Software.
“Communication breakdowns have a profound impact on everyone in the organization, regardless of gender, generation, or seniority within the company,” said Nathan Rawlins, chief marketing officer at Lucid Software. “By understanding the causes and impact of poor communications, business leaders can focus on creating strategies for building inclusion and cognitive diversity in the workplace.”
Virtual communication — email, text, chat, internal apps, social channels — offer their own set of communication issues.
Here, we’ll focus on the those that matter most now that people are moving back to the office — real-time conversation. These are the the five most inefficient conversational habits and how to avoid them, according to Fine.
People tend to interrupt for one of two reasons: They want show they’re interested and on board with the speaker and/or they are compelled to gather information and ask questions to get what they want.
While both are worthy efforts, neither will help build rapport and relationships.
Nodding is a strong enough non-verbal cue that you’re listening and interested. Questions to clarify and gather information are best held off until the other person is done speaking.
Yes, questions are important to create two-way communication. But barraging someone with questions is going overboard.
Too many questions directed at one person sounds and looks like an interrogation. Instead, look for and respond to things that you can relate to in the person’s answers from your small number of questions.
We all have to leave conversations at one time or another for many good reasons. But some people let their eyes wander for any number of reasons while they’re still in conversation. In particular, people are so used to looking at their phones, they scroll or respond to text messages while others are talking to them, listening half-heartedly.
Breaking eye contact sends a signal you’re not interested, bored or moved on from the conversation – and it makes the other person feel inferior.
Instead, when you must attend to something else, use words to break off a conversation. Find a natural break in conversation and excuse yourself for the reason you must leave.
Putting what’s been said into your own words can help build understanding and encourage better conversations.
But “parroting” too much won’t add to the conversation. It’ll just turn into a series of agreeing statements.
Instead, bring different insight backed by facts or observations to the table to create useful conversations.
Most managers are in their positions because they’re skilled and have a track record of making smart decisions. Because of that record, some come to believe their opinion is the only one that matters.
When a gray area comes up, they may try to force their opinions on others, creating an unpleasant conversation with little hopes of making a connection.
Diverse opinions are great for fostering lively, memorable conversations. But trying too hard to assert an opinion will bring conversations, and potentially relationships, to uncomfortable endings.