3 Powerful Communication Tips to Build a Positive Company Culture
Communication is a key element of creating a positive and motivating business culture. As business owners and leaders, it’s super important to set the bar for effective communication to support loyalty and long-term success with team members and customers.
A few years ago I had an opportunity to see first-hand how poor communication skills can seriously hurt team morale and loyalty.
I was at a client’s businesses when I overheard a conversation between the owner and one of his managers. The owner was obviously feeling frustrated with his manager over what seemed like a minor operating matter. Instead of talking things out with her, he turned what could have been a simple conversation into a rant and personal attack.
Having worked with this client for some time, I was aware of the hard work and dedication this manager brought to her job. Witnessing the interaction was awkward and painful, and it showed me a side of the owner I had never seen before.
In the end, the conversation upset his team member so much that she was crying in the office, ready to resign her position. I doubt she retained anything of value from the conversation, given her distressed state. Watching the conversation play out and seeing it's effect on the team reminded me that the words we use and the way we express ourselves plays a huge role in whether our communications are effective or unproductive.
The following tips can help you communicate in a simple and effective way that contributes to a positive team culture.
Respond, Don’t React
When you feel frustrated, angry, or emotionally charged about an issue it’s easy to go off on a rant that can be hurtful to team members and harmful to your business.
Often in these moments we react to the emotion we’re feeling – something that often has nothing to do with the current conversation. It’s possible you’re reacting to something that happened earlier that day or to many small irritations that have been building over time.
Make a habit of stepping back and pausing for a moment before engaging the other person. This momentary break gives you space to ask yourself if your reaction is really about the current conversation, or if something else is bothering you. In the space of a few seconds you give yourself the power to choose a response that is both effective and respectful - and that will likely get you a better result in the long run.
See the Humanity in the Other Person
When you’re feeling angry or frustrated, there is a tendency to read aggression into the other person’s intent, mapping back to your own emotions.
In the heat of the moment, it becomes easy to forget that you're in conversation with another human being who has unique perspectives and who is managing their own set of fears and concerns.
By seeing the humanity in the other person, you can relate to them on a level that allows you to connect in an authentic and meaningful way instead of dropping into attack mode.
How You Say It Is As Important As What You Say
Body language and tone of voice speak volumes more than the words you say. In the heat of an emotionally charged situation consider how the other person sees you in the moment.
Do you lean in aggressively when engaged in an encounter, cross your arms, shake your head? Do you use sarcasm or put downs when frustrated? These unconscious habits can set up a confrontational vibe, causing the other person to either shut down or fight back. This only escalates the confrontation. Listen to the tone of your voice and be aware of body language and mannerisms that may set a confrontational tone.
Speak in a calm, level voice. Demonstrate body language that is open and accepting, such as uncrossed arms, eye contact, or nodding your head to acknowledge that you understand the other person.
Communication is one of the most powerful tools we have as leaders. It allows us to share our feelings, connect with, and uplift others. When we’re frustrated or angry, communication can be a double-edged sword that isolates or diminishes the very person we are trying to connect with.
The good news is that you have the power to decide how you’ll respond in frustrating situations. Use the tips above to set yourself up for success, lift morale and build loyalty with your team and customers.
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