Do you ever feel like you and your employees speak a different language? Communication is the key to a successful employer-employee relationship, but if you are the only one communicating, you accomplish little.
Before you can correct a difficult employee situation, you have to learn the cause. But promoting that conversation can be quite a challenge. Especially if it involves a defensive personality.
Kathleen Boas, of Boas Associates Career Management Center in Kansas City, Mo., suggests following these methods to promote communication:
Use encouraging statements. This shows the person that you are interested in him or her. It also promotes the conversation. Maintain a neutral stance – don't pass judgement – and try to vary your voice intonations.
Restate the employee's ideas. This shows that you're listening and you understand what the person is saying. Focus on the basic ideas and facts being presented.
Clarify the discussion. This will give you more information and expose the employee to other opinions. It also clarifies the points for both parties. Try restating the wrong interpretation; it will force him to explain further. Always ask questions.
Reflect on the discussion. This shows empathy. For example: "You seem upset." It helps the other person evaluate his feelings after hearing someone else express them.
Summarize the conversation. Review the progress and pull together the important ideas and facts addressed. It will establish the basis for future discussion. Try restating major ideas and feelings, "These seem to be the key ideas you've expressed..."
Reframe the issue. The goal here is to change a negative perspective the person may hold by removing emotional terminology. Draw the focus away from a specific position or interest. "The noise seems to be a problem," rather than, "He's too noisy."
Validate the conflict. This acknowledges the person's worth and shows appreciation for his efforts. An example could be, "I appreciate your willingness to resolve this matter."
Promoting employee communication means being a good listener as well. Ask open-ended questions. "Such questions gather facts rather than shoving a biased opinion down someone's throat," says Boas. Exchange information freely.
Try to keep blaming statements to yourself. If you tend to be quick to judge, you're likely to dismiss an employee's unique strengths and abilities, she notes. Try not to make assumptions. Instead, make your goal to better understand how your employees think.
If you're dealing with a defensive person, it may be useful to implement the stop-and-check technique. Call a timeout when you don't think the person understood your point. Don't continue until you're sure you have gotten the actual meaning across.
Keep your cool. Buying into a defensive conversation will only create more problems. Don't use angry paybacks, recommends Boas.
Finally, release any resentments or the problem is bound to persist. "Resentments sink even the sturdiest relationships," says Boas.
With a little practice and a lot of patience, you can become an excellent listener, allowing you to build successful relationships with your employees.