A Simple Process to Remove Communication Barriers

Joyce Weiss

When communicating with your co-workers, do you sometimes feel like you’re each speaking in a different language? Do you often wonder why people don’t seem to “get” what you’re saying, or why they always do the opposite of what you say? Are you tired of the bickering and infighting that stalls progress? If so, you’re not alone. Communication at work can be tricky, but when you properly assess the situation, you can take proactive steps to eliminate communication challenges so everyone is on the same page.

Here’s an overview of how the process works:

State your challenge:
State your challenge in terms of what you want that you are not now getting. For example, do you feel that your co-workers never listen to you? Is your boss always overlooking you for a promotion? Whatever the challenge, state is as specifically as you can.
Identify the symptoms of the challenge:
How is your challenge exhibited? What are people doing or not doing that’s causing communication problems? For example, perhaps for the last five meetings, whenever you presented an idea, a certain person dismissed your idea without giving it any consideration.
Figure out when the symptoms began:
Consider creating a time-line, beginning with your first contact with the person and ending with the present. This will help you uncover a possible trigger event that caused the communication breakdown to begin. For example, you might discover that your co-worker began dismissing your ideas when you got some fancy new equipment that he didn’t get.
Honestly assess what you have done to correct the challenge:
State what you’ve said or done – either positive or negative – to help fix the communication challenge. For example, when your co-worker dismissed your idea, did you retaliate by spreading gossip about him (a negative response) or did you privately ask him what he didn’t like about your idea (a positive approach). If you’ve done nothing except complain to your family and friends about the situation, state that too.
Assess the results of your efforts:
What did the person say or do in response to each attempt on your part? Did the situation get better or worse? What symptoms still persist as a result of your efforts, or lack thereof?
Figure out what else you need to know to help you understand the nature and possible causes of your challenge:
The goal here is to consider things you may have overlooked. What assumptions have you made? Did you automatically assume your co-worker is simply a jerk and doesn’t like you? Or did you consider that he might be under tremendous stress, facing personal challenges at home, or even sick and trying to hide a serious condition? The more objective you can be, the better.
Final Step
Armed with your information, you can now approach the problem and the person in a factual, authoritative way and remove the communication barrier once and for all. With a little thought and analysis on your part, you can approach any communication problem with tact and ease. Give it a try – you’ll be amazed at the results.

Joyce Weiss, author of Full Speed Ahead and Take the Ride of Your Life!
Copyright 2010, author retains ownership. All Rights Reserved.

Category: Communicating
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