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Communication 1: Efficient techniques for a better Communication

In the current situation every word and every action has a 5 times stronger effect than in "normal" times. As a manager and employee as well as a private person you are more than ever challenged to communicate empathically, sensitively and solution-oriented. This video helps you to create the necessary basis for successful communication and offers you first techniques for more effective and efficient communication


Transcript of the video

Communication is one of our most important means not only in leadership but equally to foster a learning organisation. And everybody - in that sense - is a leader, because you’re communicating to the people left and right of you as well as below and above. And as odd as it may sound the first step towards a successful communication is listening. Simply observe for yourself how often people are not listening, but rather waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can jump in and literally offload their monologue. This is NOT a dialogue and nothing else than the old who wins -and-who-loses-game. On the contrary the ideal scenario would be that after such a dialogue both or all persons have learned something from each other, broadened their perspective and jointly developed a solution far better than one of them could have done alone. No question it needs an open and interested mind and attitude: seeing the other person’s opinion and perspective not as a threat or critique but rather as an enrichment of one’s own view. And wherever two people are of the same opinion, one is obsolete. So active listening is the first step. What exactly does it mean? As you might have guessed you always allow the other person to finish their thoughts and without directly jumping in, the second they finished. Maybe you even try to give the other person appreciation by either asking if there’s anything else? Or by repeating what they have said in your own words wether you have understood them correctly. As simple as it sounds, you will see that the other is literally gets flabbergasted when you show real interest in what they’ve said. As different as we human beings are, as equal we are all in searching and longing for community, appreciation and being seen.

And what is important for personal, physical meetings is even more important for video and telephone conferencing. It might take a bit of effort and exercise to not interrupt people while they are talking or jumping in directly after they’ve stopped. As this is more a primer and a pre-requisite for proper and successful communication, let us dive into some more concrete details on successful communication. From a psychological and neurological viewpoint we are not able to fully concentrate for more than 30 to 60 minutes. And if you observe yourself, you also might have noticed that if you focus on one topic you literally enter into a tunnel and might not see the connections left and right and miss putting the topic into the larger context. And then miraculously - simply by giving yourself a short break will see new connections and have new ideas. When arranging meetings try to schedule them for 45 minutes. If you really need more time, then schedule 45 minutes, have a 5 to 10 minutes break and then another 30 or 45 minutes. That also allows all people involved to digest the information. During the 5 to 10 minutes break grab a tea or coffee, walk a few steps or do something else. Do not engage in any challenging cognitive activities. You are subconscious thinking will do all the work for you, while you relax. And by the way this 30 to 60 minute rule has proven very efficient and successful also in doing important work. In the first place you will maybe perceive a bit of time pressure and that is a good thing to get into a flow state and you will have - that is a thing I guarantee - brilliant ideas during your short breaks. It might take some effort and time to get used to it but once you got the hang of it you would not like to miss it.

So how to structure meetings?

First set up a solid foundation for a proper and successful meeting: if you invite people - write one sentence why you want them to actively participate. Meaning: only invite people, who are actively participating on the topic and not just listening in on the information. That can be done later by sending a short summary. Prepare an agenda: there should never be a meeting without upfront communication on the topics and the goals of the meeting, except in emergency cases or if you just want to reflect your ideas or opinions with a colleague.

Secondly, take five minutes and allow everybody to check in. This could be a question like: How are you? or What’s on your plate right now? and will significantly - not only reduce the chit chat - but also obviate long monologues. It also shows your interest and appreciation in the people around you.

Thirdly go through the agenda and see how far you get in - let’s say 45 minutes. When you have ticked the boxes on all topics quickly summerise the key takeaways and ask people if they agree. In case you were not able to finish, schedule a break and take another session if possible or postpone to another day.

Fourthly, if important information is missing to make a qualified decision, stop immediately and agree who is responsible for retrieving or getting the information and reschedule the meeting.

Fifthly, after the meeting circulate the summary to all people involved and the ones needing to be informed. The positive side effect is, that people who just need to be informed are not interrupted in their schedule or work and also save a lot of time by simply getting the summary. If needed and if they want to have more information, they can decide to get in contact with you, instead of being forced to waste 45 minutes in a meeting.

That sounds simple, and yet I have observed time and again in companies that employees sometimes spend up to 80% of their time in meetings and literally don't manage to get to work. These very simple methods have always led to a reduction of at least 20% - and in better cases 50% - of the time spent in meetings, and all that with better results in terms of quality of outcome.

And in the next video we will see how to constructively and solution oriented give feedback.

Do not believe anything I say, but rather try it for yourself and practice the Art of Possibility!

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