Seven Tips to Help You Become a ‘Supercommunicator’

7 Tips to become a super communicator

Every time the front door of my gym swings open and a member breezes into the space, the entrance staff cries out “Have a great workout!” Five years into giving limp waves in return, I bellied up to the desk and asked the staffers how they were doing.

Thus began my weeklong experiment in being one of the “super-communicators”. My bible was bestselling author Charles Duhigg’s zippy psychology self-help book of the same name. Inspired by his own chagrin at being a less than sterling conversational partner – with his children, wife and employees at his former workplace – he committed himself to learning how to talk to others in a way that makes them feel heard.

Supercommunicators are rarely the most dynamic people in the room. They are the normies who are blessed with the ability to make those around them feel truly understood. The benefits aren’t only altruistic. Supercommunicators are scarily good at getting what they want.

So here goes my week of trying to live like somebody who is fueled by more than nervous energy, and possessed with the true gift of gab.

Saturday: mirror their wants and needs

It’s my warm-up day, and I’m starting off with a low-stakes audience. After we talk about the post New Years crowds, I ask the gym’s front desk denizens what they all do when they’re not sitting behind a front desk. A bit of an overstep, perhaps, but they’re game. One tells me that he is an actor and poet. Another says he is still in high school and considering joining the military. And the woman tells me that she is a plus-size model.

I think of Duhigg’s “matching principle”– mirroring somebody’s wants and needs is a way of drawing them closer, so I tell her that I’ve been dreaming of becoming a silver hair influencer ever since I stopped dying my hair. (It’s true.) She chuckles and shares the information of a few modeling agencies I might consider hitting up. As I wrap up my conversation and head over to the treadmill, I feel like myself – but on speed.

Sunday: laugh your way into their heart

I swing by my parents’ place, determined to try out Duhigg’s advice about laughter, which he says is invaluable for forging bonds. I think of some of the giddy meetings I overhear taking place behind glass walls at work. What jokes can they possibly be telling? Turns out little of what people laugh at actually constitutes funny material. According to the work of the British researcher Robert Provine, the vast majority of laughter follows “rather banal remarks”.

Unfortunately, the conversation at my childhood home is more baleful than banal. My father and mother are looking after my sister’s elderly cocker spaniel, who is recovering from eye surgery. So I remember that pivoting the conversational tone to reflect the needs of others is another key Duhiggism. I ask my parents about the daily routine with their four-legged patient, then how they are feeling about their adventures in dog-sitting. (Small talk that moves past the surface and asks people how they feel about the information in play, is another Duhigg tip.) Turns out my parents have a lot to say.

Monday: use your influence

Many of the examples in Duhigg’s book end in a supercommunicator influencing others to land on a desired outcome. I decide to try to charm a customer service representative to give me a better deal on my fitness app. Sadly, there is no phone number available, so I strike up a conversation with the chat software. My partner tells me his name is Ken, and assures me he is a real human. I comment on the dreary east coast weather, dash off a sad face emoji, then put in what I hope is a low-key request for a lower monthly fee. Then I say I can imagine he might feel taken advantage of when people ask for more than he is equipped to give.

“I’m just having a difficult time answering your questions. I’m not really used to talking about myself, especially in this case,” Ken tells me. My next reply to him, studded with weirdly placed “lol”s, evidently scares him away. “We’re offline,” a text bubble informs me.

Tuesday: assess what kind of conversation is needed

I’ve done something to annoy my husband. I would tell you what it was, but that would annoy him even more. He’s quiet throughout dinner. Duhigg says that the first step to a successful dialogue with a loved one is to figure out what kind of conversation the other person is looking to have. He likens this to the way elementary school teachers ask their students in distress: “Do you want to be heard, helped, or hugged?”

The cornerstone of Duhigg’s strategy is grouping conversations into three overarching buckets: “What’s This Really About?” (the most goal-driven back and forths), “How Do We Feel?” (a forum for airing feelings, otherwise known as “venting”), and “Who Are We?” (where participants banter about the new TV show they’re obsessed with or gossip as a way to establish their tastes and identities). “Do you want to discuss what I can do differently in the future, or is this about how you’re feeling?” I ask my beloved after dinner. He grunts and buries his face in a magazine. I remain a stupidconnector.

Wednesday: prepare a list of topics to discuss

No-grain diets. E Jean Carroll. A mutual friend’s bizarre career pivot. So goes the list of topics I have prepared for a lunch date with a former colleague who, I fear, wants me to do him a favor. According to Duhigg’s book, showing up to a meeting with a list of conversational topics will obviate the need to scramble for chatter, thus freeing up participants to be present and leave the scene in better moods. Over cheeseburgers, I steer the chat through my premeditated agenda, and find myself feeling leagues less frenetic than usual. After the server has cleared our plates, my ex-colleague clears his throat. But he doesn’t want to ask me for a favor. He wants to tell me about his teenage child’s recent struggles. Humbled, I listen.

Thursday: repeat what they’re saying

I’m falling behind on a story (midday lunches have that effect). Per Duhigg’s findings, reading non-verbal cues is essential, so I ask my editor for a video chat and steel myself to deliver the news face to face. My colleague is harried – more than I would have realized had I shot off an excuse on Slack. I ask them to tell me more about the work on their plate. “Looping for understanding” is a Duhigg-suggested tactic of slowing down a difficult conversation by listening to the other person’s hardship, repeating what you’ve heard, and then sharing what you have to say.

I assure my editor that they are doing a phenomenal job. By the time I get around to my own update, the pressure in my chest has dissipated. It’s evident that my failure to file my article on time is the least of the editor’s worries.

Friday: pay attention to non-verbal clues

My family has dinner with friends. The wife is incredibly kind and brilliant but after years of social visits, I have yet to walk away feeling like we have much in common. I don’t even have her phone number! Tonight is going to be different, though.

Showing that you are listening is just half the battle, I now know. You need to actually pay attention – with your ears and eyes – picking up on clues, and steering the conversation accordingly. I tune into her moves like a hawk-eyed naturalist. I perk up when she says “yeah” or “uh-huh”, which is a sign of somebody being engaged (or “back-channeling”, as Duhigg calls it). I note when she interrupts me, a sign she wants to skip ahead. Our conversation is more loose and fun than I was expecting. As I am leaving we exchange phone numbers. And when I reach home, I see she has followed me on Instagram. Huzzah!

Source: Lauren Mechling, The Guardian

“Communication works for those who work at it.”
– John Powell

Did you know this about disc?

DiSC is an assessment that aids with effective communication

With Conversation Starters on Catalyst, teams have an easy and fun way to tackle common challenges that hinder performance and move to tangible change. By combining DiSC with simple discussion guides, teams can talk about personality-based differences and how they affect group performance.
 You will:

  • Get to know each other faster
  • Communicate more clearly
  • Make better decisions together

 Getting started is easy!

  1. Visit the Your Groups feature on Catalyst
  2. Create and save a group with people in your organization
  3. Click into Conversation Starters and choose a topic

Mastering Productive Team Conflict

Mastering productive team conflict

All great, lasting relationships will encounter conflict. While conflict often carries a negative connotation, especially in the workplace, it can lead to growth when handled productively. Far from being a sign of team dysfunction, healthy conflict within teams can be a catalyst for innovation leading to stronger relationships.

To foster productive conflict within a team, trust must be established. When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer. By productive conflict, we mean debate that’s focused on concepts and ideas but avoids mean-spirited, personal attacks.

1. Encouraging Constructive Conflict

When we acknowledge that conflict can be a force for good, we open ourselves up to new ideas and perspectives. By speaking up for our beliefs, considering the thoughts of others, and confronting issues, we can push ourselves to reach new heights of success. Developing the habits mentioned here will further help contribute to productive debates within teams.

What Productive Conflict Looks Like on a Team:

  • Voicing opinions
  • Seeking out teammates opinions
  • Confronting important issues
  • Exploring everyones ideas

However, having productive conflict on a team can be challenging due to fears and concerns that may hold us back. It’s crucial to be aware of these fears so we can start to overcome them. For example, some team members may be afraid that conflict could damage their relationships with their colleagues, so they may avoid challenging the status quo altogether. Recognizing and addressing these common fears is essential for getting to the best ideas possible.

Fears That Can Hold a Team Back:

  • Damaging relationships
  • Appearing overly critical
  • Anticipating negative feedback
  • Disrupting the status quo

2. Taking Action to Build Productive Conflict

Productive conflict doesn’t just happen overnight. It requires active listening, respect for differing viewpoints, and a shared commitment to common goals. Team leaders play a pivotal role in cultivating an environment where team members feel empowered to express their opinions. By promoting open communication leaders can help their teams harness the power of conflict for better decision-making. Certain habits significantly aid in establishing productive conflict practices. For example, glossing over differences can lead to future problems. When all opinions aren’t expressed, teams may lack full commitment and buy-in to decisions.

Top Ways to Develop Productive Conflict:

  • Solicit the views of more reserved teammates
  • Keep the focus on ideas
  • Resist the urge to sweep things under the rug
  • Collect emotions before responding

By engaging in productive conflict and tapping into a variety of perspectives and opinions, team members can confidently commit to a decision knowing that they have benefited from everyone’s ideas. Remember, productive conflict isn’t about personal attacks or animosity. It’s about robustly discussing concepts and ideas, pushing boundaries, and ultimately creating stronger teams. When productive conflict is treated as a crucial aspect of team culture, it drives the group towards achieving greater success and fulfillment in their endeavors. So, let’s encourage healthy debates and harness their power!

Source: Five Behaviors

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity”  
– Warren Bennis

Did you know this about disc?

DiSC is an assessment that aids with effective communication

Everything DiSC Productive Conflict

Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict increases learners’ self-awareness around conflict behaviors, helping them effectively respond to uncomfortable and unavoidable challenges of workplace conflict. 

Rather than focusing on a step-by-step process for conflict resolution, this learning experience combines the personalized insights of DiSC® with the proven science of cognitive behavioral theory to help participants recognize and transform their destructive habits into more productive responses.

Productive Conflict Video

How to Give Feedback to Employees: 7 Tips for Success

Feedback for employees: 7 tips for success

In the workplace, the ability to provide constructive feedback is one of the most important tools at a manager’s disposal, giving them the power to shape not only an individual’s performance but also the performance of their department or organization as a whole. However, like many aspects of managing people, providing input is an art that takes practice. To get started, here are some essential tips for how to give feedback to employees.

1. Recognize the impact of feedback

Understanding the value of feedback is the first step in delivering it effectively. It’s easy for busy managers to neglect feedback when they don’t understand the impact their words can have on their team members. We’ve all had feedback – good and bad. Take a moment to reflect on the impact feedback has had on your development. The right feedback at the right time can be so powerful on someone that it may inspire them to change their career, or their whole life. It’s hard to push feedback to the back burner when you’re aware of its potential for profound change.

2. Find their feedback style

Just as people have their preferred communication styles, they have different preferences when it comes to receiving feedback. While some may be energized by public praise, others may be embarrassed by it. How can you tell which style your employees prefer? It’s simple – ask them. And the earlier you do it in the relationship, the better. As part of a new employee’s onboarding process, make sure to ask, “How do you like to be recognized?” This will help your team members – and you – feel more comfortable during the feedback process.

3. Choose the right time and place

The environment in which feedback is delivered can make or break its reception. Choose an appropriate setting. “Praise in public, correct in private” is a safe mantra to follow.

Also, keep in mind the timing of feedback is crucial. Don’t put it off. Address situations promptly while the details are still fresh in everyone’s mind. Whether it’s positive reinforcement or constructive criticism, try to deliver it as soon as possible after the behavior or action. “Catch them in the act,” as the saying goes, to reinforce the performance (or eradicate it). For example, if you spot a team member doing an outstanding job with a customer, make sure to praise them right away for it, and they’ll be much more likely to repeat the action.

Finally, setting the stage is important as well. Make sure your employee is prepared for receiving feedback by asking them, “Do you have some time for me to share some feedback with you on [your last project]?” Especially if you have some constructive feedback, you don’t want to catch them by surprise.

4. Be concrete and specific

While it’s always nice to give an encouraging “Good job today,” aim to be specific about what exactly your associate did and the impact it had on the project or company. Vague or ambiguous feedback can not only lead to confusion but also to hurt feelings in the case of constructive feedback. Such clarity will help your employee understand the feedback better as well as provide a road map for improvement.

5. Reconsider the compliment sandwich

The “compliment sandwich,” also known as the “feedback sandwich,” is a classic method of delivering constructive feedback by “sandwiching” areas for improvement between two positive remarks. While this approach can take the sting out of negative comments, for that very reason, it can underemphasize areas that need improvement.

When using the “positive-negative-positive” approach, it’s best to follow up this feedback sandwich with a dessert, so to speak, of checking for understanding and making a plan. Checking for understanding can be as simple as asking, “Does this make sense to you?” Open up the door for a two-way conversation at this point. Next, rather than putting your employee on the spot and asking for a plan then and there, ask them when they can give you a plan to correct the situation – and get a specific date.

6. Remember: It’s a dialogue, not a monologue

When giving feedback, stay mindful and show your employee respect by making sure the environment is distraction-free, for example, by putting your phone on silent. Invite your employee to share their thoughts and listen intently. Who knows, you may learn something important from your employee or identify an opportunity for improvement that will strengthen their performance. Above all, they’ll feel more engaged and empowered to take an active role in their work.

7. Follow up

A continuous cycle of feedback can have a powerful impact on behavior. Following up on your last feedback session will show that you care about how your employee is doing. It also gives you the opportunity to validate successful behaviors and to discourage less successful ones. The result is better communication with your team and faster growth and development.

Source: Chris Brennan, Insperity

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That is how we improve.”
– Bill Gates

Did you know this about disc?

DiSC is an assessment that aids with effective communication

Group map

The main feature is the Group map. Similar to the group map and poster available through the Group Culture and Group Facilitator reports, the map shows everyone’s dot location and their icon from Catalyst. This tab also shows the group members and their priorities and this list can be filtered by primary DiSC style. The “more info” link will take you to the “Your colleagues” comparison page with that person.

Groups Video

 

 

12 Tips to Communicate Better and Improve Business Results

12 Tips for communicating better

Strong leader communicators know that when it’s effective, communication does much more than make people feel good. It is directly linked to business results.

In fact, good communication is inextricably linked to strong leadership. It inspires employees to commit their best effort by helping them understand the goals of the organization and how their individual efforts contribute to overall success.

Here are 12 tried and true ideas for communication that drives results:

1. Don’t settle for good…be great: Good communication gets the message out, and great communication connects the dots. Whether it’s in your detailed job description or not, your role is to connect the dots so others know what’s possible and their role in making it happen.

2. Build trust and credibility: Be visible and approachable, engage others openly, fully, and early on.

3. Set context and make information relevant: Remember to provide context and make information relevant so your audiences understand how they fit in and what it means to them. Provide job-related information so those you work with have the essential information they need to do their job effectively and/or make the best decisions.

4. Communicate with integrity: Tell the truth always and without exception.

5. Match your words and actions: Talk is cheap…especially when it comes to leaders and their ability to build and maintain trust. Just ask anyone (especially employees). At the end of the day, it’s actions and results that matter most.

6. Make time to communicate and make the most of that time: Set up regular face-to-face – this can be virtual – (or voice-to-voice) communication opportunities.

7. Be brief and brilliant: Be ready to get your point across in 15 seconds or less. Grab attention from the start and convince your listener what’s in it for them so they want to hear more.

8. Remember the basics, 5Ws and an H: This is the who, what, where, when, why and how. Keep in mind that adults usually process the “what”, then the “why.”

9. Use stories: The right anecdote can be worth a thousand theories or facts.

10. Check for understanding: Make sure your message is heard and really understood. Ask questions. Listen. Ask for a paraphrase.

11. Know your audience and what’s important to them: Understanding your audience is key to moving employees to action; the more you know about them, the better you’ll be able to persuade them.

12. Watch for information overload: Just because you say something doesn’t mean others hear and understand you. And isn’t that the whole point of communication – to create shared understanding and drive people to action? The answer is yes!

Source: David Grossman, The Grossman Group

“Excellent communication doesn’t just happen naturally.  It is a product of process, skill, climate, relationship and hard work
– Pat McMillan

Did you know this about disc?

DiSC is an assessment that aids with effective communication

With Conversation Starters on Catalyst, teams have an easy and fun way to tackle common challenges that hinder performance and move to tangible change. By combining DiSC with simple discussion guides, teams can talk about personality-based differences and how they affect group performance.
 You will:

  • Get to know each other faster
  • Communicate more clearly
  • Make better decisions together

 Getting started is easy!

  1. Visit the Your Groups feature on Catalyst
  2. Create and save a group with people in your organization
  3. Click into Conversation Starters and choose a topic

Leading Through Change: Your Guide to Successful Change Initiatives

Your guide to successful change initiatives

When leading through change, you must manage your team’s progress toward your goal as well as your employees’ attitudes throughout the experience.

Sometimes managing change calls for grace periods as your staff absorbs and understands a transition. Sometimes it calls for realism that’s not too sugarcoated. At all times, change calls for strong, consistent communication from the top of the organization before, during and after a change cycle.

What do your employees want to hear during change initiatives?

1. “Here’s what’s happening, and here’s why”

When you know a change is coming, share the news with your employees as soon as possible. This initial communication, where you articulate the need for change in your organization, initiates the change cycle.

Your employees may go on to experience:

  1. Shock
  2. Denial
  3. Frustration
  4. Depression
  5. Experimentation
  6. Decision-making
  7. Integration

To soften the initial news, make the big picture clear, shedding as much light on the situation as you can. Explain why the change is important to your organization and how it will affect your company in a positive way.

The sooner your employees hear from you when change is coming, the more time they have to process it. And the better they understand the reasons behind a change, the easier it will be for them to get on board.

2. “Here’s how this is going to benefit you

Don’t stop after you’ve explained how a change will benefit your business, even if you receive more support than resistance. Your employees may not articulate it, but they will probably be wondering: What’s in it for me?

You can gain your employees’ trust by anticipating these natural concerns. Consider how each group and individual will profit from the change. How will it make their work lives better? Be ready to point to these benefits when speaking with your employees. Look for ways to make the changes matter to them on an individual level.

3. “Here’s our goal”

Are you excited about what your organization will look like on the other side of this change? Invite your employees to envision it with you. Share your chief goal for the future, and reference it often.

Each person must decide to push through the discomfort that change requires – it will take some employees longer than others – and join you in working toward a new goal. Having a clear target can keep your team unified and encouraged even as they process and adapt to change at different speeds.

4. “I don’t have all the answers, but let’s talk through this”

You’ll speak openly. You’ll speak clearly. You’ll speak confidently. But will you speak vulnerably? And will you ask your employees to share their thoughts, too?

To lead through change well, you should strive for openness. Be transparent addressing the questions you don’t have answers to. Make sure your team is comfortable sharing their thoughts and questions.

If successful, you’ll appear more genuine and trustworthy. Transparent leadership, coupled with the opportunity to share opinions, gives your employees a greater sense of control over the situation, too. The result? Staff who are more likely to feel they’re making changes with you, rather than feeling that something is happening to them.

5. “Let’s strategize together”

Once your employees have asked their initial questions and shared opinions on the change, it’s time to include them in the transition. Asking for their ideas again – after they’ve had time to process a change – helps further. That’s because your employees are more likely to become invested and collaborative if they get the opportunity to think strategically and offer valuable input.

6. “Tell me how you’re feeling through this”

Check in on your people at various points in the change cycle. Remember, no two employees are alike in their pace of processing change. Someone who seemed open to the idea early on may struggle later, in the middle of the actual changes. That’s why it’s important to keep checking in, especially if you notice disheartened attitudes.

You can reach out to your whole group during team meetings and to individuals who seem to need it most during one-on-ones.

Dig deeper in these conversations by asking:

  • Are you experiencing any roadblocks?
  • How can I help you through this?

Mention any resources your organization provides that could help manage their stress and change fatigue, such as an employee assistance program.

7. “It’s time to join us”

Leaders sometimes run into an individual who won’t accept change and begins to take a disruptive stance against it. If a negative attitude becomes a performance issue, it may be time for a difficult conversation where you insist the employee finds a way to adjust and come along with the rest of the team.

Occasionally, the best choice for everyone might be for the employee to switch teams or otherwise part ways. But hopefully, you can avoid this outcome and even these conversations by leading and communicating well from the outset.

8. “We’ve gotten this far today”

Celebrate small achievements as your team works to adjust to or implement a change. Notice what has gone well, and bring their attention to it. Show gratitude for your team’s efforts and positivity.

Words of affirmation alone can lift employee spirits; allowing them to break for the day a few hours early or giving another small reward can show that you’re truly thankful for their contributions.

9. “Well done”

Affirm efforts along the way and celebrate in a big way when your team has brought you through an important change. Rewards could include public recognition, time off, extra help and more. The key to meaningful recognition is understanding what matters most to your team and giving them something that’s important to them.

Be gracious toward yourself, too

To have the emotional energy needed to take care of employees during seasons of change, leaders can’t neglect themselves in the process. Know your personal support system and reach out when your energy or enthusiasm wanes.

Keep reminding employees about how the changes will positively affect them, and show respect for each person’s unique response to the situation.

Source: Michelle Kankousky, Insperity

“Old ways won’t open new doors.” 
– Unknown

Did you know this about disc?

DiSC is an assessment that aids with effective communication

Applications
Catalyst offers a range of DiSC application content- including Workplace, Agile EQ, and Management- designed to help learners develop the social and emotional know-how for more effective interactions at work.