ISSUE 62 ISSN 1712-468
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Interpersonal Communication


As you’ve noticed, CAN is a week late arriving in your inbox.

Toward the end of last month, I received a reminder from CRG that my CAN was due. I replied I had been very busy and apologized, saying I could likely get one out by Friday or Monday. In my mind, I really wanted to beg off for January.

The response? “Okay, not to worry.” I chose to interpret those words this way . . . “Okay, not to worry. I know you are busy so let’s miss it this month.”

I chose to allow my Personal Style “B” (Behavioral Action side) to reply to the reminder. I used few words and expected the other side to figure out what I meant. Sound familiar? And I interpreted the response using my “A” tendency to be overly optimistic without enough attention to detail. I should have asked for clarification.

Since Adam first grunted at Eve, interpersonal communication has been responsible for the creation and destruction of entire cultures, civilizations, and relationships.

Through the ages, individuals have arranged and re-arranged words to elicit emotion and convey feeling, to strike fear and bring calm, to help and to hurt. Will Shakespeare's "rose by any other name” has endured for generations to mean “It is what it is."

Simply put, words are just words until they are arranged to give meaning and context. That's when they become communication. And that's when things can go wrong.

It is said that sticks and stones break bones but words will never hurt us. Anyone over the age of 6 knows that’s not true. Bullying among today’s youth has led to unacceptable suicide rates—often motivated by “just words.” Nations have gone to war over “just words.”

It is the miscommunication, the mixed message, the misunderstood or misinterpreted phrasing that can cause irreversible harm to a person’s reputation. Ditto damage to the image of a company.

Now a missed CAN won’t likely have a major impact on your life, but consider the following.

  • In the case of emergency personnel, lives and livelihoods are saved and broken based on the difference between what is said and what is meant. "Oh, it's just a call about old Hank, again. He’s probably still drunk from last night" is an opinion until something bad happens, then it becomes evidence.
  • “No, you can't switch days off to celebrate your son's birthday." That message, standing alone, tells the employee he or she is not important to you.
  • "You shouldn't eat that," intended as commentary on eating healthier foods and lowering cholesterol, can be taken as, "Wow, you're fat."

Indeed, miscommunication has led to many sleepless nights on lumpy sofas.

Interpersonal communication is the glue that holds everything together.

  • How a manager communicates with an employee directly translates into
  • how that employee communicates with fellow employees and the public, which translates into
  • how the staff members view each other and how the public views the company, which translates into
  • how the community supports and ultimately funds the business.

Communication connects and affects everything.

So why is communication traditionally so poor?

I've seen the same things most of you have seen—ignorant, rude, condescending, and threatening supervisors and managers; cliques and factions of employees seemingly at war with one another; and racism, sexism, and every other ism in the way employees treat each other and the public.

While I don't know scientifically why such toxic environments exist, I can hazard a guess—leadership by example. Supervisors follow the lead of their supervisors. Employees are promoted to supervisors and to managers without additional training or guidance on how to motivate or communicate in a better, more beneficial way.

When ill-equipped nice people fail to produce the required results and begin to feel uncomfortable pressure from above, they often revert to the only thing they have ever known from their supervisors—management by fear. And the cycle of abuse and discontent continues.

We live in an age of instant, incessant communication. Face-to-face interaction has given way to the sterility of email and texting and the limitations of Twitter's 140 characters.

Context is no longer assisted by facial expression, body language, vocal inflection, and intonation. It has become a matter of fast first impression—a veritable crap-shoot for how a message will be interpreted.

And once a message is received and perceived, there is no going back. What was once a meeting with a personal connection is now a text message or electronic memo whose context and tone are left to the imagination of whoever reads it.

What do we do?

Remember: Nobody does business with a business—we do business with people. People may perceive the same message differently, including

  • the time they have to do the work,
  • the situation around the work,
  • the task itself, and
  • how it will affect people.

That’s why in all our relationships, we need to use excellent interpersonal skills. We must suspend thinking about how we would like people to communicate with us and learn to communicate with others so they clearly understand us. It’s a new slant on the Golden Rule.

CRG and its assessments are all about helping people communicate better and build stronger relationships with each other. That’s why you need to attend the CRG Assessment Systems Certification Workshop. While you learn to use the CRG tools, you will experience your own transformation into a much more effective communicator.

CRG will teach you how to determine your Personal Style strengths and the Personal Styles of others, to vastly improve your communication quotient and your opportunities for success. 

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