Without excellent communication, relationships can turn nasty quickly. A simple misunderstanding can lead to anger, hurt, and disappointment. Repairing broken trust can be an uphill battle, sometimes one that seems impossible to climb.
This situation is amplified in a family business; Owners can’t afford to have huge communication breakdowns or misunderstandings with other family members or their staff, because everyone has to get along, given their smaller size. Here are five things you can do to better communicate internally.
1. There Really Is a Proper Time and Place
Work is for work discussions. Home is for non-work discussions. Do everything you can to follow this rule.
Don’t lose sight of the work environment’s importance. Just as being in an office setting often improves a worker’s productivity, being in the corporate setting helps everyone shift their mind to work-related things.
When you mix your business decisions with your personal life, especially within a family business, you’re inviting personal issues to interfere with business decisions. Personal feelings can cloud your judgment, which can lead you to make a mistake that won’t only adversely affect you but your entire staff as well.
2. Practice H.O.T. Communication
Dan Oswald came up with the term H.O.T. communication to represent the three essential elements to effective communication: honest, open, and two-way.
Honesty is pretty straightforward. You have to be truthful when communicating becausewill eventually find out if you’re not. Dishonesty creates feelings of distrust, anger, resentment, and sadness among a host of others – none of which positively contribute to a good working environment.
Effective communication also needs to be open to convey your respect for and trust in your colleagues. This is especially important in a family business setting, where non-family members can often feel left out.
Here’s what Oswald says about being open:
“When you don’t communicate openly, you’re treating your people the way you treat your children. You’re in essence saying, ‘You’re not responsible enough to handle the information.’ You need to treat yourlike the adults they are and share information openly with them.”
Effective communication must also be two-way. People want to be heard. Don’t forget that.
Sometimes, the best way to clear the air if there is a misunderstanding is to listen. If your staff feels like they can come to you with concerns and you will actively listen, it will create a much healthier work environment.
3. Utilize Silence
Derick Schaefer, founder and managing director of Orangecast Social Media, explained this a while ago:
“Most communicators are not prepared to deal with silence. Silence often provokes more communication, more information, and even a revelation of insecurity. Silence can create leverage and power on behalf of the listener. It can also slow the pace of a conversation or even open it up to others in the room.”
In a nutshell, silence can do a variety of things, including ending unproductive arguments and providing people space to step back from the situation and think critically.
4. Avoid He Said/She Said
The simplest way to avoid the whole he said/she said scenario is through written communication. After holding a meeting, designate someone to send out a recap of the decisions made and what was discussed. That way there will be no question about what was said. This includes meetings with family members and those without.
5. Actively Listen
Last but not least, don’t forget to listen and internally register what the other person is communicating.
It’s not enough to pretend to listen – you actually have to hear what your staff is saying and consider it. People can tell when you’re distracted or don’t care about their thoughts. They know when they’re being brushed off.
If you think you’re doing a good job of pretending to listen, think again. Can’t you tell when you’re not being heard?
What other tips do you practice to avoid a communication breakdown within your family business?
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