ACE your communication! How to Recognize, REFINE, Resolve Colleague and Team Expectations and Communication Challenges
Lori: “Brad, can you email me that information by this Friday, so the project can be completed?”
Brad: “I am so busy and will not be at work tomorrow. I’ll see what I can do.”
This is a common communication exchange in everyone’s life. Should Lori expect the information from Brad she asked for by a specific date? Yes? No? Whenever we communicate answers that are ambiguous, such as, “I’ll see what I can do”, “I am not sure…”, “I think I might”, “Let me get back to you”, we are not communicating very well. The above short examples are open ended without any definitive answer in response to the person asking the question that requires a definitive answer.
These forms of communication often lead to frustrations between co-workers, doubts of co-workers, and the typical office gossip between co-workers. All leads to further break down of communication and work productivity.
How can someone’s ambiguous response be properly delt with that shows respect, confidence, and demonstrate the satisfied interdependence for that co-worker; or team? Whether you are working in a team situation, work closely with specific colleagues, or need to collaborate with someone you do not know yet, the principle of agreed communication expectations is foundational.
Agreed Communication Expectations = ACE
The concept on agreeing on expectations in communicating is not new, not a new religion, not groundbreaking for the 6 o’clock news. Yet, this topic continues to be written about in books that are on best sellers’ listings. There still is Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People”, published in 1936 with over 30 million copies sold worldwide. This book is one of the best-selling books of all time. According to Wikipedia, it was number 19 in 2011, on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential books. And there are Dale Carnegie Communication classes now offered. Another best-selling effective communication book, “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, another New York Times best seller with over 3 million copies sold. With hordes of e-books, Kindles, Audible and the good old fashion book, combed with living in a society where technology is at our fingertips on our phones, laptops, pads, and desktops, why is communicating with each difficult? The title of the blog, Yes = Yes, No = No is the giveaway to agreed communication expectations, or ACE.
How ACE Works
The timetable to start effectual communication is anytime: anyone can require this principle, reinforce this principle, retrace this principle in a chronology of communication with another. Setting and agreeing on communication standards that includes updates, reminders, and to be able to speak up to another when the communication is not clear without being rejected, (as we are all subject to not stating clear thoughts!), that builds the success of communication, which, builds the productivity, respect, and admiration for one another. Below are 2 examples of how two or more people can agree on terms of communicating without the feeling of misunderstanding or that feeling of ambiguity of whether the expectation will be met or not.
Agree that responses to requests need to be a “Yes” or “No” answer
Of course there are instances when a simple “Yes” or “No” needs to be accompanied by negotiating a different timeline, or amount of information that was requested, or some other difference where the two, or group, can agree and then rely on. Ultimately you need to answer a “yes” with the appropriate delivery times, or “no, but I can next week, on such n such a day”.
You Cannot be “Just meat and potatoes” for responding to others
If you are the individual supplying the request, and you think you may need more time or cannot supply the entire bulk of information, then state just that and state the reasons why. This is where you cannot be that “Just meat and potatoes” person, meaning that short answers or quips is what you are about and that is how you communicate. When at work, often, you do need to fill many gaps with proper reasonings to others, so they are informed of your request for change of date of requests or amount of information you can provide. We must take into consideration that in large organizations, the same department is also divided into silos. Signifying that just because you have certain knowledge, another team member, or co-worker will not. We cannot assume others have the same internal knowledge, no matter how trivial, that we have.
Repetition Builds Collaboration Confidence
I remember when matriculating for my physical therapy degree, most of the younger students would whine and complain about hearing the “same thing again”. What they did not understand was that information repetition was building their ability to use that same information in a variety of ways. Working situations are no different. Ensuring that everyone is supplied and has responded to either requests, or changes of information, or changes in timelines are vital for not just the success of a specific project; it builds the success for better working relationships. People that work well together will accomplish much more and more efficiently.
ACE your communications!