Anytime you are communicating with any of your colleagues, about any subject, there is one critical component to keep in mind. It’s not what you say that matters – it’s how the person you’re saying it to receives it.
Let that sink in for a moment. Communication is whatever message the receiver interprets from the interaction. That means that you, as the person sending the message, own the responsibility of framing it in a way that it will be well-received, and interpreted in the way you intended.
Let’s illustrate the concept: I submit an expense report for reimbursement for a not-so-insignifcant amount of money. It’s immediately approved but then almost a month passes and I still have not been reimbursed. Finally, growing frustrated, I email the person in charge of this area and ask when I can expect my money. What I received back was an impersonal copy and paste from the corporate policy, with a highlighted portion that stated that anyone who submitted expenses by X day of the month would get reimbursed by the Y day of the month, approximately two weeks later.
The most striking thing to me about this interaction was not the impersonal tone of the message – it was that it occurred one day before I was suppose to receive my reimbursement. The first thing that popped into my head was that I would have received the message much more positively if the response had been something like this:
“Don’t worry – your money will be safely in your back account tomorrow.”
The message was exactly the same as the copy and past from the corporate policy, but its delivery is completely different. And that’s what matters the most regarding how I (as the receiver) heard it. In this instance, one delivery left me annoyed. The other would have left me feeling pretty positive about the situation. Which is a bigger win? Which buys you more good will? Which helps you along the path to building a strong working relationship? The answer is clear.
Now I know what all you C’s are thinking: If the message is correct, then it doesn’t matter how it is delivered. However, that attitude is only going to make you enemies.
What’s a C? In the DiSC Profile, C’s are your logical, rational workers. They are incredibly smart, but tend to have trouble with the social aspect of the working environment because they view it as unimportant. If you’re an IT person, or a programmer, or a scientist, or an accountant, or a researcher, or an analyst, you probably have a lot of C in you. Learn more by taking your DiSC Profile »
In any workplace, you can’t achieve success by sitting in a room by yourself – you need other people to help you, to advocate for you, and to be on your side. To achieve that, your social relationships matter. Avoiding behavior that is needlessly difficult when interacting with others is a great first step. When communicating any message, here are a few questions to keep in mind:
- How would I respond if I received this type of communication?
- Is there a more positive spin I can put on this communication?
- What DiSC type is the person I’m communicating with? What does that tell me about how they like to receive information? How can I adapt to that?
Remember, it’s the difference between throwing down a highlighted policy manual and simply saying “You don’t need to worry. It’s all taken care of.”
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