Being professionally understandable is a huge part of how you show up to work each day. When people do not understand what you are saying, they cannot figure out what you want. Or what you really need. Or even what you both can accomplish working with each other and for each other on behalf of better serving clients.
In speaking to, coaching and facilitating cross-functional teams, I’ve identified three always-on miscommunication scenarios. Do any (or all) of these vignettes sound familiar? What other scenarios would you add?
First scenario: You know you may not be professionally understandable when the majority of your communication is full of big fancy STEM terms and acronyms.
Now, as a card-carrying STEM professional myself, I have to tell you, it’s awesome mastering the art of pronouncing multi-syllabic, discipline-specific, professional terminology. Repeat the last four words in that sentence rapidly, three times. Yeah. That is what I am talking about. Ahhhh, the thrill of letting loose a string of those large words aimed directly at colleagues seated around the virtual table! It’s almost like speaking a foreign language.
And that is exactly what you are speaking: a language that may be foreign, unfamiliar, or intimidating to colleagues seated around the virtual table! Consider how frequently that situation arises each day. While you sound magnificent and well-educated to yourself, you just may sound like a professional elitist to others.
As a result, you turn people off and they tune you out. Ouch.
Second scenario: You know you may not be professionally understandable when you throw around buzz words and business jargon as a result of the First Scenario.
If you are on the business side of the table and feel marginalized by STEM terms you do not understand, you may become defensive. Same deal for manual workers seated at the table, in workplace cultures enlightened enough to create professionally diverse teams.
So what is your next move? Even in virtual settings, the side conversations begin almost immediately. (Or texts or private messages in Zoom).
Then, if you care to comment, you start slinging business lingo around like confetti at a New Year’s celebration to show “them” that you can do the same thing. In this scenario, your STEM colleagues dismiss you as “lightweight”. Now it is their turn to turn you off and tune you out and basically not take you seriously. Ugh.
The third scenario happens simultaneously as the first two scenarios unfold. Manual workers seated around the table are relegated to the role of spectators. Again.
When you do not focus on being professionally understandable across the organization, you waste everyone’s time. Things get lost in translation and details fall through the cracks. Plus, you waste the opportunity for creativity and innovation, together.
Do you look forward to attending cross-functional meetings? How you show up for work incorporates professional understandability.
Make it OK to stop meetings when any of these three scenarios emerge. Rephrase the conversation for professional understanding, cross-functional communication, and human capital value. Get to where you need to go, together, one millimeter at a time. To learn more, read on.
Planning your next team, corporate or association meeting? Searching for a one-on-one catalyst to get you unstuck? Engage me to present a One Millimeter Mindset ™ program! Delivered virtually or in-person. Contact me here.
Babette Ten Haken is a refreshingly extroverted STEM professional and skeptical thinker focused on intentional innovation. She helps people, teams and organizations make hard calls when designing products, services, careers and cultures. These are not easy conversations to have. Her ability to translate cross-functional conversations between left-brain and right-brain thinkers provides different pathways for behavior, response, insight and collaboration. Think of the strategic business and human capital value of moving beyond avoidance or group-think, together. Instead, let your creativity, critical thinking, and leadership skills co-develop together, one millimeter at a time. Her playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact Babette here. Image source: Adobe Stock.