“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Robert McCloskey
You walk away from the conversation thinking, I am sure he knows what I meant, after all he knows what I expect!
But does he really know what you meant… does he really know what you expect!
Each of us perceives and interprets differently. Cultivating a discipline for clarification is very important. If you don’t offer and ask for feedback frequently and consistently, you are at a disadvantage. Trust between leaders and employees won’t happen unless actions (both verbal and non-verbal) are demonstrated by both the leader and employee.
Without this trust, miscommunication and misinterpretation run rampant in organizations; fear, jealousy, insecurity, and lack of motivation and collaboration impact performance. This impacts customer relations and sales!
Does this description paint a realistic picture? Many of you know exactly what I mean!
Where is Communication in the Corporate Agenda?
There are many excellent workshops that provide techniques that improve communication excellence that help increase trust and collaboration among teams. These are excellent in the moment but the energy and enthusiasm they create are hard to sustain over time unless the whole organization takes responsibility for improving communication at all levels as part of the corporate strategy.
High performing organizations put communications at the top of their agendas.
But what if you are alone in a sea of miscommunication? The responsibility of cultivating a discipline for clarification is yours alone. As a leader, lead by example. As an employee, protect your motivation and become an example.
Protect your Motivation
One technique that can help cultivate a discipline for clarification is to ask for feedback. This is a critical skill to master, and its benefits outweigh the risk of learning the truth!
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Rudyard Kipling
Your colleagues will begin to see you as brave, confident, professional, and resourceful, and as you integrate the feedback you receive, communicate the results, and recognize those who provided input, you will learn first-hand how to cultivate trust and collaboration!
The key is to practice the exercise below frequently and consistently no matter what the outcome at first.
Goal: Help others deliver feedback that is useful, focused, and motivating – get the information you need to improve.
Why protect your motivation?
- When asking for feedback about your performance (a report, meeting, or one-on-one interaction), it’s your responsibility to guide feedback you receive.
- If you don’t lead this feedback interaction you will be given all kinds of feedback. Some that may motivate you, some that may demotivate you.
- The feedback will come based on the other person’s point of view and it’s not that person’s responsibility to protect your motivation, only to provide you with feedback.
- They may not know how to deliver feedback that inspires you to action.
How does it work?
- Be clear on what you are looking for. What is your purpose for getting feedback?
- Ask one or two specific questions. Tip: If you can’t answer the questions specifically, then keep working the questions!
- Ask for 3 + 1 feedback with details: three things they liked and why, one thing you can do to improve your performance with details. Tip: If you would like more than one improvement opportunity, explain that you’ll fix that one thing and come back for another review. Getting a list of 10 things to change from 5 people all at once may de-motivate you and slow you down. Working on the most important thing at a time is best.
- Complete the task, improve your performance, and stay motivated!
What is one other benefit of using this technique? What is one potential challenge of asking for feedback in this way? What technique have you used to help protect your motivation?
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” Author Unknown