You cannot fix a communication problem by ignoring it.
The first time I experienced communication problems at work was at my afternoon job in high school. I had a boss who would tell me to do something, I would go do it, and then she would freak out asking me why I did what I did.
She actually made me feel crazy.
I talked with my careers teacher who had arranged for me to get this position (for school credit) and she recommended that I take notes during the conversation and either read them back to my boss afterwards as in “I understand you want me to do x, y, z” or email that statement back to her.
It felt really weird to do that at first, but what happened next was a game changer. My boss would correct where I heard something different from what she was trying to say or approve of my interpretation. It pretty much eliminated those weird melt downs after I completed tasks.
I don’t know why people communicate differently or why we hear what we want to hear, but I do know there are plenty of opportunities we can work on our communication together and get better.
I’m glad I had that experience early on to send back my notes for confirmation because it helped me prepare for future communication barriers.
What is something you’ve done to build better communication and understanding with your team?
I recently had a chat with my baby brother about the company that I currently work for. I was telling him about all the cool stuff that happens where I work now: some of the projects we’ve worked on in the past and some of the areas that we are working in now.. He’s getting excited, my baby sister is sitting there looking at us like we are both idiots because she had heard of almost nothing I mentioned… the one thing she did know she blurted out “that sounds like Call of Duty!”.. it was a brief moment, but I was kind of proud LOL. So my brother is stoked about all this cool stuff and he looks at me plain as day and says “What kind of cool stuff do you get to do there?”…. [crickets]… I have to blink a couple of times and give him a “say whaaaaaat” because I’m assuming he knows what I do for a living… I mean I only talk about it ALL the time (Hey- baby brother, don’t you read my blog? sheesh!). When I realize he is serious and wants an answer I give it to him “I get to find the people we hire to work on all these cool projects”. BOOM! [crickets] He just doesn’t get it. So I try again… “I solve problems that are different from the problems our engineers solve…” NAILED IT! Psyche.. still doesn’t care.. he’s only interested in the cool tech-y engineering type stuff. Hmm. You may be an engineer if…?
Anyway! Isn’t this part of our problem? We can’t express our value? We can’t convince non HR folks why we rock. 😦 Well it is for some of us. And that’s okay, because for those of “us” that it is a problem for, I have faith in you. You can turn it around. You can step up and find awesome people and help grow the awesome people you already have and do some really legit team building and coaching and activities and so on and so forth and be the best HR department you can be! But no one is going to do it for you, so get up off your tush and go do it. And if you don’t want to get up off your tush and go do it I’m going to have to ask you kindly to leave the HR profession; we don’t need anyone bringing us down and we don’t want anyone giving the profession a bad name.. kthanks! 🙂 #muchlove