In this article, the final in my Constructing Cooperative Relationships series, we will explore a number of things to be conscious of when communicating with others. This includes tips on what to look out for both within yourself, and in your perception of others.
Individuals differ in their views and opinions, which is a great thing. Let’s face it, the world would be a boring place if we all thought the same way! We need to value that difference in other people, recognising their strengths and the value that they bring.
When you don’t necessarily agree with a viewpoint of someone else, try turning it around and seeing the matter from their perspective. Why does their opinion differ? What is their end goal? What drives them to reach their view on the matter? Often when you understand their drive and motivation, it can help you reach a common outcome where both parties are happy with the result.
As you develop relationships with others, take your time getting to know their style. Then try to adapt your own style to suit theirs when communicating with them. For example, you may need some information from a person who you know is busy and can get quite abrupt when interrupted. Use this information to your advantage. Agree up front regarding the best way to approach them to gain the knowledge you need. You could stress that you know how busy they are and you appreciate that constant disruptions can affect their thought processes, so shall we schedule a half hour slot daily to use if needed? Even offering to help them out where you can is going to get them on side.
In our Agile teams, each individual brings their own value, which is key to the success of the team. Remember to celebrate those successes too, which will help your team bond and continually improve the way they work. Without open communication, it would be difficult to learn those strengths and use them to your advantage.
Developing these strong relationships results in powerful connections and increased trust. A happy, well-connected team will be highly motivated to perform and work together to achieve their goals.
Develop relationships using face-to-face communication where possible. If you happen to have part of your team on the other side of the world, use Skype (or another means of video streaming) which is a better form of communication than say, emails, which can be misinterpreted. Perhaps if you have a phone call (where you can still determine a person’s tone and level of understanding), follow it up with an email where necessary – but try not to use email as your only means of communicating.
You also need to remove any expectations or assumptions that you may have formed prior to your meetings, facing each situation with a fresh outlook. If you had an unsavoury experience with an individual who you are about to encounter again, rid your brain of the past issues as it can impede the direction that you are hoping the new situation will take. I have personally experienced this in a personal relationship, where there had been several previous conflicts. When I knew I was to meet with this person again, I removed my negative thoughts and approached the situation in a positive and upbeat manner, which seemed to rub off on the other person and it ended up being a very rewarding and happy experience (quite the different result to a situation that I was dreading!).
Investing the time, energy and attention in understanding how others operate will pay off in the longer term. View the knowledge that you gain as an asset on your own personal balance sheet. Honestly, give it a go. What harm can it do? I find it uplifting and that, more often than not, everyone wins in the end!
Over this series of five articles, we have delved into techniques you can adopt to aid the way you communicate with others – both in the delivery of your own messages, as well as how you choose to respond to the communication you receive. I hope that you have been able to take away something beneficial.
Other articles in this series:
Part I: Introduction & Why Communication Fails
- Why communication fails, and how often communication fails to reach its target successfully.
Part II: Cooperation & Communication
- How the human brain can influence the way we communicate and the impact this can have on our relationships.
Part III: Creating a Common Channel
- Awareness of internal and external pressures and adapting our way of communicating with individuals based on these.
Part IV: Relationship Impacts
- How we can improve in our verbal, vocal and visual communication and the impact these can have on the relationships we’re building.