How to avoid a communication breakdown

Communication-BreakdownHow can you avoid a communication breakdown? There’s only one solution, learn to speak their language.

By the end of this blog post I’m expecting you will understand the need to identify how to truly communicate, and thus engage (get buy-in & commitment) your audience.

This post was triggered after having read How You Can Avoid Communication Breakdown by Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC.

I can’t imagine effective & practical solutions unless they can be applied and practiced in one’s 24×7 life. Repetitive practice, after all, makes for perfection & breathes champions.

That said, let’s discuss Love Languages 🙂 , which are emotional receptors we all have that give us the truest sense of affectionate gratification. It’s where the term is typically applied; “I can’t even hear what you’re saying because your actions speak so loudly”The Five Love Languages were something that so profoundly affected my own personal life, that I started to share it with anyone who was searching for greater fulfillment in their personal relationships. At the same time, I was able to apply these very same languages to improve engagement in the workplace by “schooling” leaders on one of the more finer sides of an emotional intelligence equation.

The key here is to discover what is the preferred (primary) love language. As emotional creatures we have all five, but one (at max two) are what really make us feel loved / appreciated. Thinking about all five, which one of them most makes you feel fulfilled when you receive it? That’s your preferred or primary love language.

Personal context; The Five Love languages
  • Words of Affirmation; verbally recognize the accomplishment that someone’s made. Remind them of how beautiful, smart or motivating they are. Most importantly, when apologizing don’t sabotage the apology itself by making any form of a justification.
  • Acts of Service; take out the trash, wash the dishes, order takeout, watch a TV show or movie you might not normally like, be attentive to even the smallest opportunities like opening a door, rub their feet when they’re tired, etc..
  • Receiving Gifts; more than just buying the gift, take it to the next level with a surprise! Figure out something they want or mentioned recently, buy it & deliver it in a spontaneous way that will really give them the message of how much you love them.
  • Quality Time; look into their eyes and acknowledge their expressions when they’re sharing information. Turn the TV off or any other distractions that could ruin the moment. Sit in silence & just gaze at the stars, sunset, sun rise.. rev it up & go to the beach, a concert or sporting event.
  • Physical Touch; rubbing their feet when they were tired was an “act of service”, but if you rub their feet just for the sake of physical contact, then it’s “physical touch”. Scratch their head, run your fingers down their neck, shoulders, chest or arm.

*Note; when you are consistently stimulated by your prefered love, you tend to increase the importance of your secondary. So be attentive & be diverse 🙂

Professional context; Relevance & Common Sense

Relevance; note that what trues motivates, aligns & engages someone is when they perceive their work / effort is relevant by making a contribution to the overall success of the organization. How do you breakdown your goals & performance measurements so that your team proposes plans as to how they will individually contribute to the success of the team?

Common Sense; respect everyone’s individual life experience. There is no such thing as “common” sense. What we view as common sense is simply the accumulation of lived experiences. A baby doesn’t know that fire or heat will burn until they first burn themselves on the oven. As with love languages, try understanding what messages will resonate with the individual characteristics of your team.

Love Languages at work;

  • Words of Affirmation; verbally recognize the accomplishment or effort that someone’s made. If they can do better, avoid “but” words, replacing them with “and”. You did a really great job Sandy, AND I’m sure your next opportunity will be even better by at least 10% at the rate you’re improving.
  • Acts of Service; give them some time off to pursue or collaborate in a project of interest that will also benefit the organization. Let them sit in on a meeting in another department, preferably one that has an inter-dependence, and invite them to make appropriate recommendations as to how performance could be improved transversally.
  • Receiving Gifts; get them some baseball tickets to the next home game, for them & a family member or friends. Use a discretionary spend account for gift vouchers that are relevant to them.
  • Quality Time; have regular (minimum monthly) 1-1 meetings to review their performance & contribution. Prepare for these sessions, make sure you turn-off / block all distractions for the 30-60 minute session. Look them in the eye and commit to action plans that will be reviewed in your next encounter.
  • Physical Touch; avoid the sexual harassment lawsuit buy them a voucher for a relaxing massage after a hard week or a rewarding effort. Give them a firm handshake and or genuine pat on their back when congratulating them on a fine effort and or accomplishment.

Again, the key insight here should be to never assume & respect that everyone is an individual with individual needs. Don’t assume that just because you’re Words of Affirmation, everyone else is the same. From their perspective, wether personal or professional, they’ll respect you more for having made the effort to get to know their authentic motivational triggers.

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What are you going to do differently tomorrow? Both in your personal & professional life?

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