Effective communication has a strong connection to lean principles. Yet, it is a skill we often fail to work on. It is important to make sure your message and means of communication are as error-proof as possible. When you have a failure to effectively communicate, you will struggle to grow your business and foster relationships that encourage employees meet professional goals - both for themselves and for the company.
The first skill of communication is to listen without interrupting. Sometimes people interrupt because they think they’ve heard it before, they’re in a hurry, they want to reassure someone that they can solve the problem, they feel the speaker is repeating himself, or they just have a bad habit they don’t realize they’re doing. Personally, this last one is one that I’m guilty of. As an introvert, my brain is ahead of the conversation, and I am thinking of my answer before you’ve even finished expressing your thought. Bad habit! Author Brian Tracy in his book How the Best Leaders Lead, says you should listen patiently, quietly, calmly, and thoughtfully. Learn to use listening noises like ”mm hmm” or “I see”. Breaking a bad habit is a tough one, and one I certainly have not yet mastered. Try to be aware of instances you catch yourself interrupting. Proverbs 18 says “fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” Wise people are always learning, always listening for fresh insights and don’t hesitate to listen to team members opinions.
The Second skill in lean communication is to speak without accusing. James 1:19 says, “every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” You have to be cautious and not use words like “you always” or “you never” in conversation. Focus on the problem rather than the person.
For healthy communication, learn to listen, hear to understand, express yourself in a non-abrasive manner, encourage your employees, control your tongue, and above all note that you will stumble. Communication is as much an issue of character as it is skill.
Misunderstandings can be avoided and great things accomplished when there is open communication.