Asking questions can focus our attention and allow us to explore the unstated and unknown problems. By Peter O’Connor.
In the modern working world, communication is more important than ever. But with the fast pace and intensity of work, effective communication among co-workers and within the team can be difficult. A recent study showed that more than 60% of the employees surveyed felt increased pressure to raise productivity; and this pressure made communication much more difficult and challenging. A range of competing commitments mean communication can be poor across the board, and we may need to discern with whom and when, we really need to hone our communication skills as a leader, manager or team member.
If you know you’re under pressure, what can you do to enhance your communication ability and improve productivity at the same time? Flexibility is important as you try to focus on how to achieve your goals. Here are five important strategies to boost your communication ability in high-stress situations.
1. Laughter is the Best Medicine.
Humour is one of the best stress relievers known.
There are of course times, when it's no time for humour, jokes, but people now more than ever need to find something to laugh about, or spend some time relaxing and having fun."
Instead of stressing out and pushing through, how about lightening up, and asking the team to look for a more creative/innovative/easy way? If your team laughs together you may be surprised how well communication and productivity increase. Work should be FUN!
2. Don’t Hide Your Face in the Sand.
Sometimes under pressure you will find that people tend to dig in, focus, pull up the escape hatch, and close the stress-release valve. This isolation can be effective for short spurts, until we get interrupted or we seek answers from other employees. Things don’t get resolved with this approach, sweeping things under the carpet, so to speak.
Most complex work projects require the interconnected efforts and thoughts of many employees. So even if your instinctive reaction under pressure is to isolate yourself and just “get it done” you should stop, take a deep breath, look around and reach out to others. You will find that this is the most productive way to move forward.
3. There Is Common Ground.
Sometimes individuals who are working on the same project actually have different objectives and priorities. One person may be primarily concerned with meeting a deadline while another wants to do nothing that would detract from quality while a third is mostly concerned with looking good to management.
If the team is communicating effectively, it will be possible to identify everyone’s particular concerns and objectives. The next step is to identify common objectives which will allow you to move forward from the perspective of helping everyone get what they want. By taking the time up-front to first understand the needs and priorities of the team or work group you will be better equipped to handle any subsequent “bumps in the road”.
4. Take Responsibility When Appropriate.
Change is inevitable; there’s no way to avoid it. But placing blame indiscriminately does not help. Blaming others when things go wrong gives us the illusion of control. On the other hand, if we assume too much personal responsibility, the load gets unbearably heavy.
As a leader you will first want to identify areas of shared responsibility, and get to an agreement about consequences to avoid (such as perpetuating past problems). Rehashing the past will not help and will further drain energy.
5. Learn from Everyone’s Mistakes.
Effective business relationships in high-stress situations are based on learning and continuous improvement. Perfection is rare. Your team will not get everything right the first time every time; so learn to expect some problems. And expect to learn from them, not to stress over them. When mistakes happen, are you generally open, non-defensive, willing to listen, understand and use what you hear? If the mistake is yours, can you see your customers, coworkers and managers as a learning resource?
Peter O’Connor is the MD, and a facilitator of leadership, management, teams, sales and service and change oriented programmes at Performance Partners. Peter provides development for managers and teams who want to build their communications skills and reduce team conflicts.
See more helpful tips at https://www.performancepartners.ie/home/what-we-do/courses/leading-people-collabative-teams/