Is it possible that the same technology we use today to facilitate communication is the same thing that interferes with how we connect with each other? The short answer is yes. As we rely more and more on remote means of communication, our interpersonal conversation skills begin to atrophy.
As such, people start becoming lonelier and slowly lose their capacity to find common ground with others. This common ground is incredibly important when trying to bridge ideological divides.
Today’s Communication Is in Crisis
The ability to converse is important. Be it when we’re at the doctor trying to explain our symptoms, or the doctor trying to present information to a patient, both parties need to be on the same page. The same thing can also be said about a job-seeker during an interview, a couple trying to maintain a relationship, or an HR leader communicating with their employees. Yet, obstacles to good conversation seem to be more common today than at any other time in the past. People now talk all the time but rarely do they take the time to listen.
To make matters worse, many people are now actively resisting difficult conversations about important topics. However, t’s these very types of conversations that help people better understand and allow for different points of view to form. The way people communicate and interact nowadays, unfortunately, leaves very little room for learning, understanding, empathy, or common ground.
Email, texting, messaging, and other similar forms of digital communication, though useful and convenient, rarely prompt us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Nevertheless, this is a critical element of a healthy and fruitful conversation – especially when the two people don’t see eye to eye or have different backgrounds. These digital means of communication are also ineffective or counterproductive when dealing with other people’s problems and feelings.
Conversation Matters Economically
Companies whose HR leaders are well versed in the art of communication make almost double the profits of companies with “uncommunicative” leaders. Businesses that can train their employees to communicate more effectively among themselves and their customers see improved profits. The same thing can also be said about companies that hire sales reps who know how to listen to their buyers.
On a more social level, poor conversational skills will undermine a person’s sense of commonality. As such, many will claim to be open to different points of view, when in reality, they’re only open to those similar to their own. Very few people will recognize their own cognitive biases, meaning that most will automatically label people, dooming any interaction before it starts.
Honest conversations require setting aside any biases and preconceived stereotypes in favour of mutual respect and understanding. And while these types of conversations may put us beyond our comfort zones on occasion, when conducted properly, they have the capacity to bridge all sorts of divisions.
Keep all conflicts impersonal – critique ideas, not the person, and focus on finding a solution rather than owning the discussion. HR leaders should be able to master these discussions, always asking themselves why people believe what they believe and “what if the other person is right?”
Are you and your leadership team doing all that you can to facilitate meaningful communication in the workplace? If so, I would be more than happy to get your feedback. Let’s book a few minutes to discuss. I would welcome the opportunity to connect.
Book an appointment with me at https://go.oncehub.com/GregNichvalodoff or call me at +1 (604) 943-0800.