The Supervisors 14 Essential Truths For Communicating With Direct Reports

John Robertson

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One amazing, but sadly true, fact of today's advances in communication tools is that we really don't communicate much better than in the past.

Indeed one recent study determined the number one advancement in communication tools was the availability of cheap on-line airfares.

The airline trip was needed to clarify some earlier communication sent out electronically!

Therefore a Manager/Supervisor must be able to clearly communicate to his/her direct reports in an effective manner.

The following are 14 essential truths you must understand in order to improve your communication skills.

1. Focus-When someone is talking to you, STOP what you are doing and thinking. Face the person talking, devote 100% of you attention to both the person speaking and to what is being said.

2. Listen-Don't just “hear" the words being spoken. Listen to what and how the statements are being said. Observe body signals and facial expressions.

3. Attention-Don’t let your mind wander. Let the person finish what they are saying, then take a few seconds to think about what your response will be.

4. Paraphrase-When the person is finished speaking repeat back in your own words what you heard. Ask the person if you have an understanding of what they said.

5. Empathy-Be aware of the other person's needs. Everybody has different needs, wants and desires. Be cautious about substituting your needs for theirs.

6. Ask-Don’t tell. Telling quickly gets the other person on the defensive. Save your comments and guidance until you totally understand the question and the situation.

7. Be Open. -Don't criticize, pass judgement or preach. Make objective conclusions about alternate ideas, people and situations. Be careful of attaching or offering your values too quickly, if at all.

8. Advise-Watch the temptation to “give" advice. Only “offer" advice. It's always better to say something like “I suggest we…" and not “Here's what you need to do".

9. Trust-Is what open and honest communication is all about. Without trust teams can't function properly, people will loose respect for each other. Without trust you are building a house of cards that will eventually tumble down. With trust teamwork and cooperation are much easier to achieve.

10. Equity-Both parties must feel equal. While at first reading this may seem an unusual requirement in the Supervisor and Direct Report relationship. However even in this situation the relationship should be equal on the personal level. By using equality in speaking, you avoid the dreaded condescending speech.

11. Comfort-While stress and tension may be surrounding the conversation learn to be comfortable with yourself and the message you are about to deliver.

12. Interest-Strive to have a genuine interest in others. Everyone has a story to tell and most of the time it is an interesting one! Talk in terms of what the other person is interested in. The familiar quote of “In order to be understood, we must first seek to understand others" is very true. Practice it.

13. Motivate-Always be looking for ways to motivate others. Use positive reinforcement often. Look for ways to offer praise and recognition.

14. Humor-Take life seriously, not yourself. Life is too short to go without a constant stream of humor. Look for it.

© 2004 TrainingConnections.ORG , All rights reserved

About The Author

John brings over 20 years of management experience at the Mid to Sr. Level in Fortune 100 companies. He knows and understands the “real world" of business and the challenges you face. His company, TrainingConnections. ORG is available to work with you to increase employee productivity. He can be contacted at www.TrainingConnections.ORG


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