September 10, 2013


Years ago I was sitting in traffic on my way to work when I noticed that my hands were not only gripping the wheel, they fiercely were pulling on it as if to will myself to get there as soon as possible.

I loved my job and was on my way to a really great place to work.

Unfortunately, according to Forbes Magazine, not too many people can say that. In fact, nearly 65% of employees are dissatisfied with their work.

Given that we spend over a third of our lives working each week, I think we all would prefer to be at a great place. 

Apart from obvious leadership and management issues, one of the main problems people encounter in the workplace is in communicating effectively to build solid working relationships.

Not many people are all that adept at this nor do they realise how important good working relationships are to building a successful workplace culture. As a matter of fact, our relationships are critical.

When people relate well to each other, they help build trust which promotes the release of Oxytocin in the brain. Higher levels of Oxytocin are associated with a number of positives such as reduced stress and social fears, increased feelings of generosity and more importantly, better, more moral decision-making. 

If only people at Enron hugged each other more often. 

Building great communication is essential to our working relationships and not all that difficult to master. It is actually less about what you say than how you listen. 

The problem is that while most of us are able to hear, we often do not really give the other person our full attention and actually listen. 

What we think is listening is really hearing through a filter of our opinions ("I don't agree with that"), assumptions ("They don't really know all the facts.") or experiences ("Oh, I've heard this before, I know what they'll say next.")

We're so busy either processing what they are saying or waiting to have our turn to speak that we often don't actually listen. Without agenda, opinion or interpretations.

Trust me. Next time you have a conversation, notice just how noisy it is between your ears.

Not to worry, You're in good company with over seven billion people. It's a natural function of the brain to take in and process information, some of which you hear as that background chatter. It's automatic, pervasive and an inevitable part of human interactions.

What you can do is consciously put that all aside, clear your mind and just listen to the other person. Forget about responding. Listen for what they really are saying and what their point of view is.

Don't worry about trying to change their minds yet. First really listen to what they have to say. As if they are the most important person in the room.

At the very least, you'll make their day. Guaranteed there are few people in their lives who really listen.

In doing so, you'll both start to build trust and relatedness. That will pave the way for much more productive conversation, better relationships and a great workplace.


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