Communication sits at the very foundation of any successful business. It is safe to say that without proper conversation, the day-to-day operations of an organization will either grind to a halt or will be severely impaired.
There can be numerous factors that impede seamless collaboration within the workplace. These can classify as personal attitudes and habits developed by individuals.
Alternatively, they can be a direct result of a strict hierarchical system and chain of command that hinders the exchange of ideas both among peers and between managers and subordinates.
A more subversive and much-ignored problem arises when staff members begin forming stories regarding others’ actions and behaviours. In time, these will degenerate to the point where collaboration will break down completely. So, how can leaders counteract this issue and create a company culture based on communication clarity?
A more subversive and much-ignored problem arises when staff members begin forming stories regarding others’ actions and behaviours.
The Boundaries of Honest Communication
As communication sits at the foundation of collaboration, so does honesty remain at the foundation of communication. But when it comes to authentic dialogue, there need to be some boundaries concerning how close or detached people are from one another.
When two people in a business environment become too close, one’s actions will begin dictating the thoughts and experiences of the other. In this case, each of them will start holding the other accountable for their experiences. In a manager-employee scenario, for instance, the manager may inadvertently begin to delivering explicit or implicit messages about what is considered acceptable and what is off-limits. In time, honest communications will start to break down, exacerbating the seamless collaboration problem.
At the other end of the spectrum, if two people disconnect entirely from one another, the tendency is to avoid, or in some cases to manipulate the other. As a consequence, these individuals have no regard about others’ feelings and experiences and don’t take into account how their actions and attitudes will affect them – be it positively or negatively. In many instances, this disconnect is with senior managers looking down through the ranks.
Striking the Balance
Striking a balance between these two extremes is how individuals can set the basis for a culture of communication clarity. Those who manage to strike this balance will also be able to recognize that experiences to the same event can vary from person to person and that all of them are equally valid.
Nevertheless, they will not assume any personal responsibility for others’ points of view or feelings, nor try to change them. And probably the most important of all is that they don’t lose their sense of self. Being able to strike this balance is not an end-point, in and of itself, but rather a journey of personal development. It will take some time and determination, but the benefits will be well worth the effort.