Wonder About a Disconnect?
When Those Communication Issues …
……Can Be Pointed Back to Us
Some people seem be really good communicators. Ever notice those people who seem to naturally be able to figure out the right thing to say? Then there are those people who can so easily spark up a conversation about the most trivial of topics…. even if they aren’t talking about anything in particular.
Then we have those people who aren’t comfortable with small talk, so they simply don’t talk. At all.
As leaders, it’s easy to fall under the second category – especially when you consider just how many things we’re juggling and how many responsibilities we need to tend to. Oftentimes silence is a nice reprieve.
No need to chit chat about trivial stuff. Especially if it interrupts our train of thought.
However, as leaders, every move we make or don’t make and every word we say or don’t say is being noticed. We’re being judged, even by the kindest people. It’s normal. People look up to [good] leaders and either consciously or subconsciously emulate our behavior.
They also look to us with an interest in connecting. When they feel connected to us, it confirms that they are important.
Ever happen to stop by the break room at the same time as one of your part timers or an intern – or those team members or employees who you don’t generally spend a whole lot of time with – and notice an uncomfortable bout of silence? Luckily, most people will be courteous enough to say hello and some will even initiate small talk.
Take the initiative here. Invite small talk. Try to connect with everyone in your workplace. Let them know they matter to you. Research shows that we will get better results when we connect with others through small talk (in other words, this too – is good for business).
Sometimes this is easier said than done though. I know.
A very common concern some of my clients have is connecting with front line workers or employees that they have very little contact with during the course of a typical day. Actually, I should backtrack here – some of these clients of mine don’t actually believe it’s a concern until we broach the topic. They generally don’t want to bother connecting with front line workers or interns. They are truly focused on the bigger, more important issues. A common response I get when I ask about this is “that’s their manager’s job. You know I don’t have the time for this”.
~Transform that mindset~
Once we move toward understanding why it is so important, the next response I generally get is, “I try asking them how they are doing this morning and they usually say ‘fine’ or ‘good’, but then the conversation is over”.
That’s probably because the question was a generic one. Try asking open ended questions that require an explanation for an answer. Ask them about things, people, or events that are important to them. Then remember and follow up the next time you see them.
A common question I’m asked when working with clients on communication issues in the workplace is “what do I do after I ask ‘how are you this morning?’ “. This type of small talk is important. Communication blunders caused by awkward silence may have your name written all over it. After all – you are the leader.
We Can’t Control Others, but We Have Complete Control Over Ourselves
Those of you who have worked with me before already likely know my answer: it points back to us.
If your workforce isn’t used to conversations initiated by you – give it some time. They might not jump in and actively join a conversation if they aren’t used to you initiating it. However, this is the first step to improving your workplace culture and strengthening your relationships with your staff.
Employees who don’t feel a sense of connection aren’t going to realize you value them.
What’s worse is that these employees are nearly ten times more disengaged than those staff members who feel a sense of connection to you. With 30% of the average workforce harboring negative feelings about their supervisors, managers, and overarching leadership – it’s no wonder this all points back to us.
Remember too — they are dealing with your customers. It works. I promise.
Plus, it’s good for business.