It Takes Two-Way Communication To Tango

Ah, the joys of communication. I bet Adam and Eve never had problems when it came to the ‘c’ word. Can you imagine?

“Hey Adam, we probs shouldn’t have eaten that apple” Eve said. Adam responded, “Yeah Eve, I totes agree with that. Feeling #guilty.”. Simple. Clear. Finito. 

The point being, these days there are so many ways to misinterpret communication– social media, text messages and emails have certainly played a role when it comes to this. And if you’ve ever experienced ‘Per my last email’, AKA, WHERE THE HECK IS MY RESPONSE, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

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The tone gets lost, words are miscommunicated, and expressions are no-where to be seen (except for you avid emoji users). However, it’s not only the digital world that has to answer for poor translation. Managers and leaders must foster the two-way communication relationship because this will ultimately build the foundations of a thriving team. 

It seems pretty simple, right? Communication should flow both ways. Wrong. While it may appear like I’m teaching you your ABC’s again; the communication process is undeniably the most significant skill in the workplace, but probably the least likely to be prioritised. And if you’ve been on the receiving end of lousy communication, you know it sticks and for allllll the wrong reasons. 

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So, how can we embrace two-way communication in the workplace? First of all, it’s creating a safe environment for employees to want to share their ideas, knowledge and curiosity. Providing a platform, where one feels comfortable enough to contribute their thoughts and opinions is crucial. This, in return, will encourage participation and engagement. 

Secondly, leaders and managers MUST create a positive space for employees. This can be achieved through 1. positive language that sparks joy and happiness and 2. valuing your employee’s feelings. These two steps are pivotal because, as research suggests, not only does a happy workplace increase “productivity by 12 %”, but employees will want to communicate effectively when they feel valued and acknowledged. 

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And finally, include members of your team. Now, I’m not asking you to CC them into every email (that would not go down well), but by practising inclusiveness, you are ticking off the above points. When your employees feel included, that’s when the two-way communication will flourish, inevitably leading to stronger relationships and team cohesiveness. 

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The moral of the story is two-way communication is more than achievable– it’s your willingness as a leader to implement it. Take a moment and ask yourself how you would expect someone to communicate with you. Are you delivering that same expectation?

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Oswald, Andrew J. , Proto, Eugenio and Sgroi, Daniel. (2015) Happiness and productivity. Journal of Labor Economics, 33 (4). pp. 789-822.

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