It all depends on who you are looking for and your own personal history.
In chapter 6 of F. F. Fournies’ book Coaching for Improved Work Performance, he spend considerable time telling us why communication between people is such a problem. The following is a short review of that chapter by Jennifer Watson:
”Communication plays a major role in employee performance. Many times when a manager is explaining something to an employee the employee many be thinking of something else. The manager believes he told the employee what to do but when the employee does not exhibit the right behavior the manager blames the employee. Fournies, however, explains that telling someone something is not enough. The mind is reactive and thinks 6 times faster than a person speaks. Therefore, thought transmission is required in order for a person to truly get the message of what another person is saying. That means that a person must say and do something that will make the other person receive the thought transmission.
Asking a person a question causes his mind to react to what the other person is saying and therefore helps to complete a thought transmission. Fournies states that ‘if you make the sounds come out of their mouths then you know the thought had to be in their heads.’ This transmission is essential to the manager/employee relationship. Only after a manager is sure that an employee heard him correctly can a manager blame the employee for not doing what was asked.
Fournies surveyed 25,000 supervisors and managers about why they think employees do not do what they are supposed to do. He found 16 reason:
1. They do not know what they are supposed to do.
2. They do not know how to do it.
3. They do not know why they should do it.
4. They think they are doing it (lack of feedback).
5. There are obstacles beyond their control.
6. They think it will not work.
7. They think their way is better.
8. They think something is more important (priorities).
9. There is no positive consequence to them for doing it.
10. There is a negative consequence to them for doing it.
11. There is positive consequence to them for not doing it.
12. There is no negative consequence for them for not doing it.
13. Personal limits (incapacity).
14. Personal problems.
15. Fear (they anticipate future negative consequences).
16. No one could do it.
“Fournies points out that most of these result from a lack of direction and a lack of feedback from the manager. “
Some key points to remember.
- Because the mind is primarily a reactive instrument, successful communication is a function of thought transmission. – if you have an idea you wish to transmit to someone else, you must say or do something that will cause that idea to appear in the other’s head as a reaction to what you said or did.
- The simple fact of communication is that when you are talking to others, the only things you can be sure working on the subject you are talking about are your brain, your mouth, and maybe their ears. If you want to know what a person’s brain is working on , YOU HAVE TO MAKE SOUNDS COME OUT OF HIS/HER MOUTH.
- Rather than making the sounds come out of your mouth (telling people all the things you want them to know), you must do something to make the sounds come out of their mouths. That something to do is; ASK QUESTIONS.
- One of the primary reasons managers have difficulty communicating with subordinates is because subordinates use silence to intimidate the boss. Don’t answer your own question, ask the question again until you get the answer from them.
- If you want to know whether he/she knows what you just explained, the only appropriate kind of question is: “Would you now explain to me what we just talked about?” OR “Would you describe now how you are going to do that job based on what we just discussed?” OR you can remove the “Would you” and make it a demand. No question. If you make the sounds come out of their mouths then you know the thoughts had to be in their heads. If the only thing you get is a “Yes,” then that’s all you know for sure was between their ears.
- You might also get their agreement that they are going to do it & when. Something like; “Now, what are you going to do and when are you going to do it?” Don not accept silence.
- Be aware of the distractions in the work area when talking to an employee.
You might want to read the other blog I did on communication.