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Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

4 Tips to Recover From Miscommunication in the Workplace

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Despite organizations’ best efforts to provide all employees with communication skills training, miscommunication sometimes still happens at work. When it does, make sure employees know how to recover from the miscommunication — respectfully, tactfully and with accountability. Here are 4 tips to help anyone recover from communication breakdowns.

  1. Acknowledge that a miscommunication has taken place. When faced with the realization that a miscommunication has occurred, sometimes we have a tendency to want to just “sweep it under the rug” — ignore it in the hopes it will work itself out — or, we may throw a frustration “tantrum”, or decide to badmouth the person with whom we had the miscommunication to another co-worker. None of these are productive responses, though. Instead, go see, call, or email the other person and simply state, “I’m sorry – I think we may have miscommunicated.”
  2. Admit your part in the miscommunication. Communication problems are almost never a one-way street. Communication skills training will teach you to consider what part you may have played in the miscommunication. Even if you feel like there’s NO WAY you misheard, swallow your pride and say something like, “I thought I heard you say (XYZ), but maybe I misunderstood?” Taking some accountability for your role in the problem will help the other person feel less defensive, and will pave the way for them to “own” their part of the problem, as well.
  3. Ask for, and provide, greater clarity. So, you’ve established that a miscommunication has occurred, you’ve taken responsibility for it, and now you must try to clear it up. Ask for clarity from the other person to get to the root of the issue. Explain your own impressions of the original communication, and clarify what you said or did at the time. Most importantly, decide how to move forward in a way that avoids similar miscommunications in the future.
  4. If the miscommunication stems from a diversity-related issue, take these extra steps: assess intent cautiously and demonstrate respect as you address the issue. Sometimes in the workplace, miscommunications happen when someone says something that is interpreted as insensitive or offensive. When this happens, communications skills videos teach us that it’s important NOT to jump to conclusions about that person’s intent. Think about a time when you made an assumption about someone’s attitude or intent and turned out to be wrong (or when someone misjudged your intent).

Address the other person respectfully, in a way that keeps the conversation moving forward, rather than shutting it down. Try to engage the other party about their perspective on what happened. Have the conversation in private, and avoid name-calling, or using labels such as “sexist” or “racist.” Try phrases like, “I know you didn’t realize it, but what you said really bothered me.”

We recommend these two communication skills videos to help employees prevent miscommunications in the first place, and address them once they’ve happened.

Communication Counts examines the day-to-day things people do (or fail to do) that cause costly misunderstandings and mishaps. Tips for preventing them are provided.

Gateways to Inclusion: Turning Tense Moments Into Productive Conversations teaches skills that turn moments of diversity-tension into ” gateways” for increased understanding and improved relationships.

Communication Skills Training – Strategies for Dealing With Difficult People

Friday, March 10th, 2017

If you’re like most people, your day is spent working with and dealing with generally pleasant people. But all of us, at one time or another, come into contact with a difficult person, and then we must rely on the communication skills training we’ve received to help us with strategies to handle that difficult person. Often, a communication skills video is a helpful tool to teach these strategies and model how to engage with difficult people.difficultpeople

Types of Difficult People

There are many types of people who are hard to work with – and they can be co-workers, customers, vendors and even bosses. Some of the more common types you may need to deal with are: people who are regularly rude and fail to use common courtesies (such as saying hello, please, or thank you); people who have no respect for time, regularly miss deadlines and are late for meetings; people who tell you TMI – Too Much Information about their own personal life, or someone else’s; people who can’t be relied upon to do what they say they’ll do; and of course, there are some people who are downright angry or disgruntled…these people require special care, especially when they are customers.

Using “I” Statements to Deal with Difficult People

An “I” statement is an effective way to non-accusatorily address someone who is being difficult. An “I” statement consists of four parts: I feel….when…because…so, I’d like… I statements should NOT be accusations – they should relate the other person’s action to the effects they have on you and how you feel. Because I statements put the focus on you, they are less likely to be resented by the person you’re addressing.

An I statement for the person who is regularly rude to you might sound like: “I feel offended when you don’t say ‘please’ when you’re asking something of me because it feels like I’m being commanded instead of asked. It would make a big difference to me if you would try to say please when you’re making a request.” An I statement for a person who regularly misses deadlines could be: “I was very concerned when you said you couldn’t meet the schedule because we have customers relying on a ship date. I’d like to take some time to meet and brainstorm how we can stay on schedule; can we do that?”

Dealing with Difficult Customers

When the difficult person is a disruptive customer, rely on your communication skills training or service recovery training to help you calmly manage the situation. If the customer is “making a scene” in a busy area, first ask to take the guest to a more private area. Then begin by listening to the customer, without interrupting. Hear them out so you make sure you fully understand their problem or complaint. Next, apologize – this shows you’re taking responsibility, and it can really help defuse the guest’s anger. After you’ve apologized, work with the guest to problem-solve and try to reach a satisfactory solution. Even though it may be difficult and you may feel attacked, remember to empathize with your guest, tell them you’re sorry, and personalize the solution to the problem so they feel heard, respected and satisfied.

Use a communication skills video like Working With You is Killing Me to teach and model the skills above. In this program, viewers are taught about toxic workplace relationships and how to unhook from them using verbal and written communication skills. When the difficult person is a customer, The Difficult Guest video provides solid training on recognizing, understanding, and taking care of irate or dissatisfied customers.

Avoid Misunderstandings with Communication Skills Training

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Misunderstandings are always painful, but when they occur at work, they can also be extremely costly. Help your employees avoid project missteps, missed deadlines and even hurt feelings by providing communication skills training for the entire organization. Ensure that employees practice basic communication skills like speaking (or writing) with clarity in mind, being direct, communicating non-defensively, and practicing active listening.nobody

Speak and write with clarity

Lack of clarity or incomplete information opens the door for misinterpretation and faulty assumptions, which leads to wasted time and hurt feelings.To avoid miscommunication when you are speaking or writing, present ALL the information you can that might be relevant to the situation. Make it as clear as possible, and if it’s written communication, re-read what you’ve written before you send it – often, this will uncover numerous spots where you’ll think, “I could word that more clearly.”

Communication skills video: Communication Counts examines six day-to-day things people do that cause costly misunderstandings and mishaps. Tips for preventing them are provided.

Practice active (empathic) listening

Employing active listening ensures that a message isn’t missed. Without active listening, vital information the sender assumes has been communicated may, in fact, not be received. Keep your focus when someone is speaking by taking notes or asking questions. Feed back what you’ve heard; for example, “Here’s what I think I heard you say…”. Remember, empathic listening means listening – not with the intent to respond – but with the intent to really understand the speaker.

Communication skills video: Nobody’s Listening features a manager who’s forced to repeat the same humorous interaction with his employee over and over until he finally, truly listens.

Be direct (and avoid jargon)

Another way to avoid miscommunications is to be direct. Often, it’s more comfortable when we have something difficult to say to be indirect in order to avoid conflict and personal discomfort. But the other person is often left unclear about the purpose of the conversation. Be direct, but respectful. Another way we fail to be direct is when we rely too heavily on industry or workplace jargon. You can’t assume every listener will be familiar with all your jargon, so avoid overly-technical words and phrases. Use language that everyone will understand.

Communication skills video: Communication Breakdown identifies the seven communication problems most likely to derail an organization and how they can be avoided.

Communicate non-defensively

We’ve all done it at some point: we perceive a comment someone makes as an attack. We react defensively. That provokes more defensiveness from the other person. It’s important in these situations to realize the part you’re playing, disengage from the emotional turmoil happening, empathize with the other person, and actively combat defensiveness in your own communication. By learning to choose what we say and how we say it, and by expressing ourselves in as non-threatening a way as possible, we will be improving our own communication and encouraging others to do so, as well.

Communication skills video: Communicating Non-Defensively reveals why people get defensive and teaches 5 steps for sending and receiving messages non-defensively.

Why Respectful Communication is Key to Workplace Success

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Nobody likes to work with a jerk – someone who is rude, who says things to hurt others or discriminate against them, someone who gossips or makes inappropriate jokes, or someone whose short temper leads to mean or hurtful things being said during a disagreement. All of these behaviors are forms of disrespectful communication; all these things undermine an employee’s success at work. On the other hand, being a respectful communicator paves the way to workplace success.communication

To demonstrate respect in the workplace through your communication, begin with common-sense behaviors to show basic decency: strive to speak and behave in ways that won’t offend others, attempt to honor and understand others’ viewpoints, and take the time to make sure you understand what someone else has said or written. However, two other, less-obvious communication skills are also important to show respect in the workplace.

First, talk with someone instead of about them. Too much time can be wasted trying to straighten out a situation that we have not confronted directly. This means avoiding gossip and complaining about others behind their back; it also means avoiding stewing about something without bringing it to the attention of the person we are upset with. It is always more respectful to say what we have to say directly, instead of talking about it with others.

Second, communicate respectfully during disagreements. This is the true test of your competency as a respectful communicator; while it may be easy to be respectful when discussions are calm and light-hearted, when an argument arises, it’s much harder. There will always be disagreements in the workplace. We depend on others to get our jobs done, and we spend a lot of time in close contact with people who we did not necessarily choose to be with. When arguments happen, we need to be sure to treat each other with respect. Tone things down, listen and look for a solution. Angry communications will never be effective in resolving an issue to the satisfaction of both parties. Instead, find a way to work through things in a calmer framework in order to find the best solution.

For an in-depth look at how to communicate to show respect in the workplace, CRM Learning’s The Respectful Communicator uses realistic scenarios to teach 5 communication guidelines that help minimize misunderstandings and promote a respectful, inclusive workplace.

Try These Communication Skills Training Exercises

Friday, December 9th, 2016

The cost of poor communication in organizations is very high – mismanaged projects, missed deadlines, interpersonal conflict over miscommunications, low employee morale. It’s important to instill an organizational culture that values and encourages clear communication, and that begins with communication skills training for all employees. Teaching people at all levels to speak, write and listen with clarity, without distractions, and with respect is key to great organizational communication. Below are some communication skills training exercises you can use to get you started.commcounts_trailer

Communication Skills Training Exercise: There’s a Time and Place

Choosing the right timing and approach for your message is an important component of any communication. The wrong approach, method or timing can bury the message and intended result in noise and misunderstanding. Choosing the right time and place can make all the difference between failure and success. This activity helps learners take a moment and think about their communication – to make sure how and when their message is delivered matches what is being conveyed. When the topic is important, they’ll learn to put in extra time and effort to communicate effectively.

Communication skills video recommendation: Communication Counts: Speaking and Listening for Results

The exercise above is excerpted from the workshop that accompanies the Communication Counts video training program, which explores 6 keys to effective communication and shows how each of them can affect the success of an organization.

Communication Skills Training Exercise: Who’s Listening?

In this activity, learners are asked to think about the best and worst listeners they know, reflect on what behaviors contribute these designations, and then honestly rate their own listening abilities. Going through this process helps employees recognize the consequences of good or bad listening, as they reflect on how their job performance and the overall environment at work is affected by working with the good listener versus the bad listener they identified.

Sometimes it seems as if we don’t have choices, but usually we do. We can choose to focus our attention, to reduce distraction, and stop for a few minutes to sit down and listen. The benefit of one person’s ability to be an effective listener carries far beyond individual conversations.

Communication skills video recommendation: Nobody’s Listening

Listening with the intent to understand is important for communication among employees. This humorous program shows what happens when a busy boss doesn’t slow down long enough to hear what his employees are trying to tell him. Fortunately, he gets a “do-over,” and things improve.

Communication Skills Training Exercise: Deep Breaths

In today’s increasingly diverse workplaces, disagreements are to be expected and even, perhaps, encouraged, as diverse opinions and perspectives are a definite organizational advantage. Discussions that include disagreement require a bit of extra care. If not respectfully managed, these conversations can easily create tensions that become unproductive and have effects long past the initial conversation.

In this activity, participants are asked to record a few words or phrases they can say to themselves — and to the others involved — when they feel a conversation heating up and moving in an unpleasant and unproductive direction.

Communication skills video recommendation: The Respectful Communicator: The Part You Play

This program teaches people to confirm their understanding, care about the way they come across, communicate with decency, and value the input of others.

How The Power Of Words Can Change The Dynamic of Your Workplace

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Words are powerful – they can be weapons of conflict and confusion, or tools for encouragement, clarity and harmony – and effective communication_skillscommunication skills training can help any team wield words in a way that benefits both team members and the whole organization. If your team struggles from occasional negativity, disagreements, miscommunication, or problems with morale, plan some communication skills training soon to learn how changing your words can change the dynamic of your work.

CRM Learning offers numerous communication skills videos that help teams communicate more clearly and respectfully, whether in front of a group, one-on-one, in person, or electronically. Using techniques like choosing clear language, being a receptive, empathic listener, and showing people you value their input all reinforce the power that word choices have on your work environment.

Choose Clear Language

Many times communication breaks down because we fail to say exactly what we mean. The failure to be precise and thorough can result in a misunderstanding, at worst, or at best, can eat up time because the listener has to ask follow-up questions to decipher our meaning. While there ARE occasions when it’s socially polite to be indirect, we need to know how to speak directly, clearly and openly in most workplace situations. This requires knowing the objective of the conversation, and using precise language to obtain it.

Be an Empathic Listener

It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the word choices that will help you most are either choosing NOT to speak, or using words to enhance your listening. Empathic listening requires you to listen to others with the intent to understand them, not to reply. When you are preparing your response as you “listen” to others instead of really trying to understand them, your focus is on YOUR needs, not the speaker’s. Conversely, when you listen for real understanding, you set aside your opinions while you’re listening, so your mind is clear enough to hear what is really being said. This results in greater clarity, better solutions to complex problems, and faster problem solving.

Show People You Value Their Input

Another way communication skills training can help you use words to change the dynamic of your workplace is by teaching employees to communicate respectfully and inclusively (even during disagreements). Using phrases like, “I’d like to hear what you think about this,” or “Who here has a different opinion?” helps you show your co-workers that their ideas and input are valued. When in an argument, go out of your way to remain respectful: tone things down, listen, and look for a solution.

Communication skills videos from CRM Learning can help you and your organization employ the power of words to change your workplace dynamic. Verbal Communication breaks successful verbal communication into 5 critical components. The Power of Words is a short meeting opener video that gets right to the heart of communication that works, inspiring people to choose their words carefully. And Empathic Listening, featuring Stephen Covey, gives practical tips you can incorporate immediately into daily conversations to ensure that you are listening with the intent to understand.

Communicating Respectfully: Understanding The Part You Play To Avoid Misunderstandings

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

One of the key ways to demonstrate respect in the workplace is through your communication with others. Being a respectful communicator means more than just not offending anyone; you also show respect by communicating clearly and working to prevent misunderstandings by doing things like tailoring your communication style and confirming your understanding.delegates

Techniques for Becoming a Respectful Communicator

Tailor Your Communication

When you’re speaking or writing to someone, do you take the time to really think about who that other person is, and consider how they would like to be approached? Do you alter your message, your words, your tone of voice, your volume, or your body language to accommodate their preferences? Tailoring your communication to suit your audience is one way to show respect in the workplace, and ensure that there’s not a perceived lack of respect (which can cause miscommunications to occur). In diverse workplaces, we all occasionally need advice or guidance when it comes to understanding other cultures and generations.Take the time to learn about your audience, consider how they would like to be addressed, and show respect by tailoring your message for them.

Confirm You Understand the Other Person

Respectful communicators make an effort to confirm their understanding of what’s been said. Most people are familiar with the term “active listening” – the act of rephrasing what the person we are talking to has said, to verify what we think we have heard. In a work environment with a healthy mix of generations, genders, languages, and cultures, active listening becomes even more important. Listening and confirming your understanding really comes into play when accepting a new assignment, when serving customers, or when dealing with a co-worker for whom English is a second language.

Know the Difference Between Appropriate and Inappropriate

We all have boundaries when it comes to the things we do and don’t like to talk about with our co-workers. But sometimes we forget that our boundaries are not always the same as others’. Pay attention to how others are responding to what you say or do, and alter your course if it’s making others uncomfortable. The simplest approach is to just avoid making comments that could demean, hurt or belittle others. You should also avoid inappropriate language, and never share information that wasn’t meant to be made public. To be a respectful communicator, think about what you say and how appropriate it is for the workplace and the people you work with. Sometimes, our thoughts, jokes and opinions are better left unsaid.

Communication is how we get things done at work. If you can improve your respectful communication techniques to accommodate the diversity of people’s backgrounds, experiences and opinions, you will reap significant benefits.

CRM Learning’s The Respectful Communicator: The Part You Play teaches employees to demonstrate respect in the workplace by confirming their understanding, caring about the way they come across, communicating with decency, and valuing the input of others. CRM Learning also offers many other training videos on respect in the workplace.

What is “Empathic Listening” and Why is it Crucial to Success?

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, so how is this trait crucial to success in the workplace? For one, mutual understanding is the key to effective communication. Managers who are empathetic listeners gain the trust of their employees and can manage their team more effectively. When employees use empathy to listen and communicate with peers, it helps them to better understand one another, building morale and improving efficiency in the process. 

CRM Learning offers the best communication skills videos on the market with subcategories like verbal skills, listening skills, and organizational messaging. The listening skills video below will teach your management staff about the importance of empathy and how to look at situations from another’s perspective.

Empathic Listening imageEmpathic Listening: The Key to Communication is one of our best-selling videos that teaches the key to good listening: empathy. It features 3 complementary video components that feature realistic and humorous vignettes demonstrating empathic listening (or a lack thereof), as well as practical tips and phrases to incorporate into your interactions immediately to improve your listening. 

What does empathic listening entail?  

The video addresses misunderstandings, how to achieve higher levels of trust and understanding and how to develop an elite set of listening skills. Viewers of the video will learn to diagnose before the prescribe, listen empathically and seek to understand from another perspective. The ability to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” can help you make better decisions in the workplace and increase the productivity of your team.

  • Nobody’s Listening
    In this 11-minute video, a manager fails to listen to the concerns of a subordinate. After his failure, he has a second (and third and fourth) opportunity to change his behavior to actively listen and participate in the conversation. The manager (and viewers) learn that to be an effective listener, you must pay attention, including eliminating distractions, feeding back to the speaker what you’ve heard and asking clarifying questions.
  • Diagnose Before You Prescribe
    In this 8-minute segment, Stephen R. Covey teaches the process of listening with the intent to understand. Listening intently to a person in the workplace before responding can avoid misunderstandings, talking over one another, and disagreements.
  • I Know Just What You Mean
    In this 21-minute video, the skill of active listening is covered in depth. Techniques are demonstrated that will minimize misunderstanding and miscommunication. By showing how quickly people can jump to conclusions, the video underscores the vital importance of diagnosing needs before prescribing solutions.

CRM Learning has numerous award-winning communication skills videos to choose from to enhance your employees’ and managers’ communication skills, including Empathic Listening: The Key to Communication.

Infographic: Don’t Get So Defensive!

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

We’ve all witnessed (or experienced) defensiveness in the workplace.

Person 1 takes Person 2’s  comments the wrong way and — perceiving he is under attack — issues a counterattack.  Person 2  feels hurt or threatened by Person 1’s response and says something negative back. Additional counterattacks are exchanged as the individuals become increasingly determined to defend themselves and justify their actions.

Don't Get So Defensive Infographic

CRM’s classic communication tutorial Communicating Non-Defensively: Don’t Take it Personally explains what can make people defensive while demonstrating practical communication skills for nipping it in the bud.

We’ve summarized some of the content in this infographic (opens a PDF). We hope you find it useful.


 

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