Our communication styles impact the way people perceive us. Also, our styles govern their receptivity to what we have to say. Consequently, we either create opportunities for collaboration or, alternatively, erect barriers to communication.
Now, we often default to using a pitching communication style to clients and colleagues. As a result, we are not paying attention to whether or not anyone is catching on to what we are throwing out there. Or, we overuse a pontifical style, directing others to comply to rules, strictly follow processes or stay alert for upcoming industry trends. After a while, is anyone paying attention?
As a result, in spite of our best intentions, our communication style makes colleagues and clients tune out and turn off. And, let’s face it, they are distracted and overwhelmed, to begin with. As a result, critical emails, alerts and reports are not flagged for immediate response. Instead, this information gets relegated to “later,” where it is underappreciated, too late or never read.
We make it very easy for colleagues and clients to dismiss the importance, relevance and value of what we have to say. Let’s explore some common issues. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
First, consider the pace and cadence of our respective communication styles. Are we making colleagues and clients uncomfortable?
We unconsciously think, read and speak using the semantics, pace and cadence of our respective professional disciplines. Our professional habits are part of our professional DNA.
As a result, we may annoy colleagues and customers. The dry, authoritative, lecture-style of technical and engineering professionals is like fingernails scraping down a blackboard to business folks. It works both ways. On the other hand, the fast-paced, slick, biz-buzzword-packed style of marketing, sales and business professionals is a wall of noise to technical professionals.
Either scenario often results in a less-than collaborative outcome. The significance of what is said is lost, because there is absolutely no translational value. As a result, we are background noise instead of a clarion of clarity for improving business and operational processes.
Often, communication styles rely heavily on a professional language than colleagues and clients are not comfortable listening to.
No epiphany here. Technical and non-technical folks speak two different professional languages. When we stubbornly insist that colleagues or clients wise up and learn our professional language, we are out of luck. There is no collaboration in that tack. Ever.
Take a walk on the wild side. And here’s the epiphany. Focus on developing a translational communication style instead of a parochial one.
Otherwise, we, once again, merge into background noise created by workplace distraction and overwhelm. Even when we have groundbreaking and predictive information which proactively impacts project outcomes.
Then again, word choices create clarity or, alternatively, ambiguity.
Take those cross-functional meetings we all find ourselves in. Often, these outings with colleagues from across the organization are anything but cross-functionally communicative.
Unless, that is, we are cognizant and diligent about whether our communication style creates collaboration barriers. Until, that is, we become more mindful of what – and how – we communicate. And before we start slinging around professional lingo like confetti at a New Year’s party.
Word choices are important, especially to technical and engineering professionals. They work with numbers, focusing on precision and complexity. When business folks use the words “exactly,” “precisely” and “certainly,” when speaking to technical colleagues, those precision-driven folks are grasping at thin air trying to capture a design specification.
Then again, when technical and engineering folks speak about Theory of Constraints, design tolerances and statistical process control, who do they expect to understand them on the business side of the table?
Perhaps it is time for some professional innovation, leading to cross-functional collaboration. Otherwise colleagues and clients continue to miss the point, overlook the brilliance and fail to benefit from the enduring outcomes we can produce on their behalf.
Next steps towards professional innovation focused on communication styles:
- Read these related posts. Discover how professional innovation starts by professional disruption and a willingness to let go of professional lingo-slinging.
- Has what you read today started you thinking about tomorrow? Contact me and let’s discuss.
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Babette Ten Haken serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
Image author: Corina-Rosu Image source: Fotolia