Learning to communicate well can improve the way your staff work, save you money and help you deal with tricky situations, says Bronia Szczygiel, director at training provider Aspire Leadership.
Good communication leads to happier and more motivated staff who complete tasks better and are more likely to stay with you – all of which saves money and helps create a more enjoyable place to work and more successful business.
Bad communication on the other hand often leads to a higher turnover of staff, sloppier work and at worse, a seething undertone of gossip and complaining.
So, how do you communicate well?
To properly communicate with someone, you need to understand what makes that individual tick – this allows you to frame things, such as tasks, in a way which appeals to them.
For example, if you know someone is motivated by relationships and helping others, you might say ‘I’m not able to do x, I really need your help, could you please finish it for me?’.
For someone who enjoys responsibility, you might say instead ‘I really need someone to take over x, can I leave it in your capable hands?’.
To find out what motivates someone, ask open questions such as ‘what have you been up to today?’. People will normally focus on what they love, or what frustrates them.
Observe how and what they work on – we normally prioritise tasks that we enjoy and procrastinate over those we do not.
You might think you know family members well, but you may not know what motivates them professionally – find this out too.
Everyone is an individual, but people are generally motivated to different degrees by three things:
So, someone who is motivated by status and achieving will generally like responsibility, while someone who is motivated by relationships might like to feel like they are helping someone.
Day-to-day feedback helps build an open relationship and twoway dialogue. Praise in particular is very motivating and will encourage someone to keep doing those things.
Regular dialogue builds bridges and helps people feel they can return the feedback to you. Two-way communication with staff/colleagues is essential – they may spot problematic or unsafe situations and call them out, or have a useful suggestion for an improvement.
Employ the principle of ‘listen, agree, pause’.
Respond rather than react – if someone is pushing your buttons, pause for a moment and think about the best way to respond.
Rather than arguing, focus on where you agree – telling someone that you agree with a particular point allows them to let go of the issue and move on to discuss how things can be fixed.
It also helps because people who are agitated or upset feel more emotional if they do not think they are being listened to. Opting to say ‘I understand you are upset/angry’ will go a long way to defusing things.
If someone has done something you do not like, focus on their behaviour when you communicate this, rather than passing judgement.
For example, consider saying ‘you left the gate open and the sheep got out’ rather than ‘you are an idiot/you are careless’.
Judgement is personal and people are likely to react defensively, which then fuels disagreement or bad feeling.
To properly communicate with someone, you need to understand what makes that individual tick
Body language is just as important as verbal communication. Having a clear intention for an interaction – how you want to come across, or what outcome you want – will automatically cause you to use the body language appropriate to this.
For example, if you want to appear calm, you will automatically change your body language accordingly.
Emails and texts can be misinterpreted because there is no body language or voice tone.
To avoid this, put attention to your intention and what tone you want to convey. If it is a particularly tricky subject, ask someone else to read before sending.
Even just changing words to more colloquial language like ‘I’m’ instead of ‘I am’, can help make an email less brusk. Adapt your language to the person, as you would verbally.
Shape Your Farming Future is a series of informative and practical guides looking in-depth at issues pertinent to farmers when planning for the future.