As a leader, how do you foster better communication on your team? How do you ensure they’re picking up what you’re putting down? How do you help them get it?
One Way to Foster Better Communication
It had been a long night…and morning…and afternoon at the airport.
The kind where cancellations and delays compound into a complex verb of frustration that includes four letters. The kind where you start to notice the characters around you and make up their stories.
I had pegged the guy next to me for a Baptist preacher. Among other signs, it was HOW he earnestly offered to watch my stuff as I went to the bathroom, “Ma’am I’ve been watching ladies purses for decades. I watch my wife’s purse. I watch my girl’s purses. I watch my wife’s friend’s friends purses. So whatever you need. I’m your purse watching man.”
And I trusted him.
He was on the phone when I came back from the bathroom. He silently nodded and grinned toward my big red purse which also serves as a computer bag, dongle carrier, journal holder, with nooks and crannies for light snacks and kombucha.
Nope, definitely not Baptist preacher–bankruptcy lawyer. Now I’m intrigued and can’t help but overhear his conversation occurring in such a beautiful Southern drawl it would have been fun to hear, even if I couldn’t understand the words.
“Now my wife says I hear okay, but I doooon’t listen tooooo gooood. Let me repeat back what I’m hearing you say you want to do.”
Silence as the caller responds. Then…
“You see sir, my wife is right. That is just NOT one of the options. Let me be clear. You CAAAAN’T do THAAAT. How about this? Let me share with you your three options again.”
Gives three options. Then…
“You sleep on it. Call your Momma or talk to your wife…and then we’ll talk again tomorrow.”
I’m beside myself. This is the most remarkable Winning Well check for understanding I’ve ever heard. Full-on confident humility.
“Sir, Thank so much for watching my bag, and indeed you are a remarkable purse watcher. AND I couldn’t help but to overhear…What you did there was brilliant.
You see I wrote this book… and my co-author (now fiance, but that’s another story) and I had this remarkable disagreement about whether the ‘check for understanding’ should be included. I thought it was too simple. He swore it was a vital concept. As we’ve been doing workshops, guess what’s one of the top 10 take-aways?
The funny part is, the higher the managers are in the organization, the more they love it.
It’s so easy.
‘Do a simple check to understand…are they picking up what you’re putting down?’
Instead of ‘Any questions?’ or ‘Are you with me?’ You ask… ‘Okay, so I just want to check to ensure we’re all on the same page…’ and then get them to repeat back. ‘What are we going to do first? And then? By when?’ “
He shared, “Karin, I’ve been doing this for years. When people are going through bankruptcy or periods of change and uncertainty they hear what they want to–not necessarily what’s true. I give them a way to hear it again.”
There’s real power in hearing what your team hears. That’s a great start for fostering better communication.