Are Your Covid Bad Habits Impeding Your Relationships?

Have you picked up any bad Covid Communication habits these past two years?

Actually, that is a baited question. If you answered no, then I’d like you to reflect on that question again because we all have, no matter our age.

Even before the pandemic, technology made it easier than ever before to craft an email or text then shoot it off rather than take the time for a live conversation. However, Covid has magnified our propensity to avoid human interactions, especially for those of us who classify ourselves as introverts.

In my consulting / coaching practice, I am witnessing my clients experience the adverse effects from these ineffective communication habits. If left to no adjustments, it will seriously impede the ability to develop and deepen authentic connections.

Relationships are interactive, engaging, and interpersonal. They are not transactional. It is our responsibility to nourish them through accountable, intentional, and individualized communication.

With self-awareness, we need to extract our egos to customize our messages to their recipients. An investment of time in engaging interactions will reap benefits hundreds of folds and will actually achieve our end results quicker.

So how do you gauge how effective you are at your communications? I encourage you to answer these questions:

  • Is your natural inclination to email or text on every interaction because it’s faster than speaking to someone?
  • Are you ever reactionary in your responses so much so that your messages are perceived as direct, curt, arrogant, etc.?
  • How would you rank your listening skills on a scale of 1-5? Do you listen to respond quickly so that you can move on down the road with a task? Or do you listen to try to empathetically understand and be a resource?
  • Do you ever find that you are repeatedly unsuccessful at persuading others, both professionally and personally?

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, then here are a few strategies to overcome these communications challenges:

1. When a written correspondence takes more than a minute and a half to create, then consider picking up the phone instead.

Why? Because if ever this is an activity wrought with opportunity for misunderstanding it’s when in written form.

While emails and texts are great tools of efficiency, they offer only a one-sided perspective – that of the writer. No matter how articulate we may be at crafting a message, we can’t interpret how the reader will receive / perceive our communication.

This becomes more complex when interacting with people least like us and when dealing with information more technical in nature. By connecting live on the phone or via a video meeting, the opportunities for misinterpretation are reduced significantly.

If there is a need to document the information in writing, then follow up your conversation with a bulleted list summary email to ensure that everyone is in alignment.

2. If you receive a message that is challenging or stirs you up, rather than responding immediately with a quick retort, the best action is no action.

That’s correct, throttle back with INACTION.

It’s crucial to pay attention to those initial agitations because they can indicate warning signs. When they come, step back and walk away – even if it means shutting your Outlook down for five or ten minutes.

Revisit the message later with a different lens. Perhaps it’s the author’s writing style? Or perhaps you were rushed in the way you read it the first time? Or tired? Or hungry?

If you find that the message is still difficult, then requests a phone call with the person. You will never overcome any dispute in a back-and-forth email exchange.

In fact, you will both lose ground and make it worse instead…

3. When you listen to respond, rather than listening to understand it leads to a one-sided, unauthentic conversation.

Several decades ago, I was taught the LAER methodical process that, when incorporated into conversations, allows you to remain more engaged and present. Additionally, it’s an excellent strategy to implement if you are challenged with quick thinking responses as it buys you some time to devise the appropriate answer to the question being asked.

LAER is defined as:

Listen – You can’t help someone if you can’t hear them.

You’ve been around those people; you know the ones.

They want to be so helpful that they finish your sentences and are sure that they have an answer before you have even finished your question. Assumptions can be made when you’re too quick to respond; thus, your response seldom contains the applicable solution to their problem AND they are left frustrated with, and anxious from, their interaction with you.

Instead…

Acknowledge – Truly let what they are saying sink in.

Pay attention intently to not only what is coming out of their mouths, but also to their body language and / or voice inflections as they are saying it. These aspects further define the story.

Once they are finished and only when they are finished (don’t finish for them)…

Explore – This is your chance to dig deeper into the intent of their challenge.

Get curious and ask pointed questions; find ways to delve into their question in a way they may not have even thought about. (By doing this, you become a problem finder, as well as a problem solver.) Note: It is completely acceptable to restate their question as you heard it in case they would like to clarify it further.

And then, and only then…

Respond – By utilizing LAER, you have time to develop your response and ensure that it is tailored to your inquirer.

They will feel special and “heard” because you aren’t providing a canned, boilerplate solution to their problem. One added touch is to always check back in to ensure that you have effectively covered the topic after you respond to their question(s).

4. When trying to achieve anything, it is imperative that you get to the relationship before you get to the ask.

So, what do I mean by that? If you don’t have the credibility, character, composure, reliability, etc. of your recipients, then you will continue to be ineffective in your ability to influence them. In other words, your relationships will continue to feel transactional.

These simple strategies will help you to overcome the common denominator in any challenging situation – a breakdown in communication!

In the second part of this article, we will discuss the impacts of Covid bad habits on our next generation communications. Stay tuned.

When you work with our business development speaker Dawn Landry, you will increase the success of your business by keeping your eye on the ball.  Hiring has been difficult and there is work volume; however, it is important to stay on top of your business development and your professional relationships.  Our core job is to help our clients run their businesses with confidence.

Multi-Generational Communication Strategies

As pandemic time is elapsing, I am witnessing common threads between healthy organizations with happy employee relationships as opposed to those who are struggling.

The way we work has morphed, yet I’m finding that people still want / need to see people. This is even more so for our next generation employees who are seeking mentorship and coaching since they haven’t received much of either these past few years.

The largest hurdle that many older individuals are guilty of (present company included) includes a communication style that relays terms, activities, and even pop culture references that exclude younger people.

For me, like many, this is not intentional. Quite actually, I forget my age and that my exposure / experience of things may be derived from moments several decades ago. (I have the memory of an elephant. My collection of idioms or other resources could be recalled from last month, or it could be from 1979, and everything in between!)

Here’s a story from when I first experienced a hint of generational divide in my conversation:

Several years ago, my husband and I attended the 60th birthday celebration of a former colleague of mine. “Joe” and I had worked closely with one another for many years, so I had heard many great proud father stories about his daughters.

At his party, I had the opportunity to meet them in person for the first time. They were in their late twenties by then. Each was well on her way to a thriving career in her respective career. One was also accompanied by her fiancé.

My husband was engaging and funny (as usual) in our conversation with all three of them. Somehow the conversation took us to doomsday prepping. (I’m not sure how; we do live in Texas, though!)

I jokingly interjected that “meanwhile, back at the ranch…” That’s when I was stopped before I could continue my story.

The young man interrupted: “You have a ranch?!?”

I looked at him strangely and I said, “Uh, no.”

I was about to continue but then thought about it and tried to explain that that reference was a saying. None of the other members of our group had heard of it except for my husband and me.

Of course, we then Googled it to find its source. (For those who are curious, that idiom is derived from the silent movie days. Here’s a more detailed explanation: https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/meanwhile%2C+back+at+the+ranch.)

In summary, it was a major wake up call for me. I now try to become far more aware of the nostalgic references that I make in my conversations.

By the way, it works both ways.

Concurrently, each younger generation has its own language and trends that are different as well. Even the most self-proclaimed, older hipsters are only so in their own minds. Just ask their kids or younger folks around them!

Much like we discussed in Part One of this series, we all need to deploy strategies that individualize and customize our messages to our audiences, knowing that it’s never one size fits all. There must be an empathy and appreciation of diversity, experience, education, background, etc. to be successful.

Will we always get it right when aiming towards multi-generational communications? No way.

However, if we AIM (i.e., are Accountable, Intentional, and have Measurable outcomes) with positive intent and self-awareness, then we will have a greater chance of achieving long, deep, and lasting relationships.

When you work with our business development speaker Dawn Landry, you will increase the success of your business learning to work with a multi-generational workforce and stay on top of your professional relationships.  Our core job is to help our clients run their businesses with confidence.

Contact WCD

Wilene Dunn, CEO (WCD Enterprices)
Email: Wilene@wcdenterprises.com
Phone: (713) 518-4914

7407 Hour Glass Circle
Dallas, Texas 75252

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