Coaching visiting business professionals who are in the United States working on projects for their countries is exciting, satisfying, and eye opening. This work is eye opening because seeing how these professionals work so diligently on learning American business customs and English is inspiring. Many will still want a session after a grueling drive from a business assignment in another state. They will sacrifice family time to keep their sessions. They will still want sessions even when they are not feeling well. They will often fret over wanting to use the exact correct word in a simple email. They are eager to understand the best ways to communicate ideas. They will struggle not to be insulting in their conversations. In short, they are diligent about communication. Don’t you wish you could say the same for your co-workers?
While communicating in English may seem like rocket science to foreign professionals at times, it shouldn’t be that way to us…and it isn’t. It takes a minimum amount of effort on our parts to recognize and appreciate the commutation styles of our peers, co-workers, families, and friends. The reasons for making this effort are many.
Cost: According to sources in an article by SHRM: Miscommunication costs large companies abut $62 M per year and smaller companies about $420,000K per year. Miscommunication causes waste, lost time, a decrease in productivity, and may even result in legal fees.
Change: There is a strong correlation between change and communication. According to a study by Towers Watson, “[There is] a strong relationship between superior financial performance and effective communication, and change management. Companies with high effectiveness in change management and communication are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform their industry peers than firms that are not effective in these areas.”
Team Building: Not only does HOW you communicate matter, but also the tools that you use can have an impact as well. It seems that Best-in-Class companies understand that the more employees use social media to communicate internally, the better a community they build organizational wide. Further, effective communication within a team helps to build employee morale and that can certainly lead to better productivity.
Obviously, this list could go on and on. However, the purpose of this blog is to provide you with some tools to help you and your teammates communicate more effectively. One of the ways to accomplish better communications to be able to recognize a co-worker’s communication style.
One of the best ways is to have the team take assessments and then share that information. Follow-up and follow-through on practicing learning more about your co-worker is essential. One of the more popular assessments is the DISC. You may see many models of the DISC as its creator, did not copyright the instrument. In lieu of not having the information from an assessment, there are still ways to recognize, understand, and improve communication with each of the four styles as laid out in the DISC instrument.
Dominance – D: “Ds” are looking for results and don’t waste their time with chit-chat or unrelated conversation. Just stick to the facts and they really could care less about your opinion.
How to recognize a High D: High “Ds” are always in a hurry and they are impatient. They may often lean forward with their hand in their pocket and they use large gestures when talking. If you ramble, they will grow weary quickly and ask, “Is there a point to this?”
Influence – I: The “Is” are trusting, extroverted and love people. However, they can be indirect and rambling in their communication efforts.
How to recognize a High I: The high “I”, too, uses a lot of gestures when talking as well as facial expressions. They will stand with their feet apart putting both hands in their pockets. When walking, they tend to weave and may even bump into things. High “Is” tend to be disorganized.
Steadiness – S: The high “S” will not show emotions and you may have to “pull” information out of them.
How to recognize a High S: The high “S” is an introvert and will often lean back with a hand in their pocket. They maintain a steady, easy pace and while they will gesture, gestures are smaller than a “D” or “I” and they will maintain a poker face. It is often difficult to “read” them and this can sometimes lead to a barrier in communication.
Compliance – C: High “Cs” are always looking for information and ask a lot of questions. Some of those questions may be about policy, procedures, or rules. They can be critical and direct.
How to Recognize a High C: A high “C” may stand with arms in a fold and one hand on their chin. They will walk in a straight line, are reserved, and use few gestures. “Cs” are also good drivers because they like to follow the rules and stay between the lines.
Once we practice recognizing the different styles, it takes just a little effort to adapt our communication style. Adapting our styles may not be as difficult as learning a new language; it may not be easy at first as we are all a combination of behaviors and communication styles. Plus, depending on the circumstances, our motivators can have some influence as well. Be patient with yourself and make it fun.
Adapting our behaviors and communication styles does not mean that we must become someone else. We are simply modifying our communication style briefly to achieve a goal. Examples of modification would be for the high “I” to get to the point quickly when speaking with a “D.” A “D” might consider allowing a small amount of time for chit chat when communicating with an “I”. An “S” might consider communicating a piece of important or pertinent information and not be so possessive of it. A “C” might consider not asking s many questions or being too analytical.
Effective communication is important and can literally transform the culture of an organization for the better. Doesn’t it make sense to be as diligent as foreign business visitors about communication? Investing in better understanding others and then adapting our styles to theirs to achieve objectives is a smart idea.
Graphic Credit: BigStock.com Copyright: andrianocz
Hutton, L. (June, 2017). 6 Reasons Why Effective Communication Should Be a Focus in Your Business. Australian Institute of Business.
Johnson, R. (n.d.). What Are the Benefits of Effective Communication in the Workplace? Chron.com
SHRM. (n.d.). The Cost of Poor Communications. SHRM.org .
Towers Watson (2013). Change and Communication ROI – The 10th Anniversary Report. How The Fundamentals Have Evolved and The Best Adapt. 2013 – 2014 Communication and Change ROI Study Report.