Understanding and Utilizing Communication Loops

Any time you are working with people, communication is wildly important to success. While this is an established and accepted fact, the data to back this up might surprise you. A recent study by Dynamic Signal shows that 80% of the US workforce is feeling stressed by poor communication and over half have witnessed negative financial outcomes as a result of poor communication. These numbers are staggering and blatantly demonstrate the highly valuable role that communication plays in overall success.

So what should communication look like? Communication is not a one-way street! Messaging that is always pointed in the same direction is not real communication. Whether you recognize it or not, communication is always a continuous loop. Even the leaders who are exclusively focused on sending messages are receiving feedback – they either do not realize this or are choosing to ignore the feedback.

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Below are some tips designed to provide leaders with tools and techniques necessary to ensure they are not breaking the communication loop:

Recognize that you are always sending messages.  

  • Studies show that managers are communicating up to 80% of the workday. This communication may come in the form of body language in-person or on Zoom, words you type in texts or emails, and words you say. Cultivate an awareness of what messages you are sending at all times. 

Consider who is getting the messages and be sure you are speaking in the way that they want to receive the message. 

  • It’s easier to “get the message” if you match styles with the person with whom you are communicating. In my communication workshops, participants have all taken the TTI Success Insights DISC Profile. Part of the report is “words that work and words that don’t work,” plus there are all sorts of communication tips based on the person’s style. (If this sounds interesting, hang tight! We’ll be talking more on DISC Communication Styles later this month!)

Ask powerful questions.  

  • Invite discussion by asking broad questions that don’t force an answer in any specific direction. For example, instead of asking, “Why did you think that the project went well?” try asking, “What do you think about how the project went?” If you get stuck, my personal favorite is “tell me more.”  

Listen to the answers.  

  • Listening thoughtfully to an answer doesn’t always mean you necessarily change direction or plans – in fact, these are great opportunities to give feedback as to why you are not changing as a result of the feedback. Listening allows you have more information to make a better decision and shows that you respect someone else and their opinion. However, do not ask for input if you are not open to taking a different approach – this lack of authenticity will not serve you well. It is pure hubris if you think the person’s feedback doesn’t matter.

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About Amy Lafko

As a Physical Therapist, Amy spent years in school learning best practices for patient care and how to put the patient first. Like so many technically skilled clinicians, she advanced to a leadership role. Spending 20+ years in operational leadership, she had an epiphany: Putting the customer first isn’t the path to success or fulfillment. Rather, the most successful organizations and practices put their people first – and exceptional customer care, profitability, and effectiveness naturally followed.