Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Every Day Is Labor Day; Are You Listening to Me?

As we rub the late summer sand, sunblock and slumber out of our eyes today, let’s remember what yesterday’s Holiday was all about—taking a break from work during a “work day” to honor those in the workforce.

While these three-day national holiday weekends can easily stretch into four or five days, I know I’m not alone when I say it’s getting harder than ever to get back into groove. Funny thing about it—most of us were checking email, posts, tweets and fairly tethered to our mobile devices over the long weekend, so it should be easier to get caught up, not harder, right? Not so fast.

We may have been “checking in” while out of our normal work routine, but we weren’t trying to hold back the information deluge.

Also, the so-called work day has lost its conventional boundaries and the pressure to stay in touch has never been greater. The pace of doing business is also faster than it used to be and the amount of information that the typical worker must manage is infinitely larger than before. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO or the summer intern.

I’m not sure if all this technology is making us more efficient, but at least there are more ways to communicate with each other and connect with someone if they’re ignoring you on one of their phones. Problem is, you never get a break and your brain never has a chance to recharge for optimal efficiency and fresh ideas.

Understanding different communication styles

I recently did a piece for Association Adviser, which has a following of over 5,000 trade association execs. 
While working on the article, it became clear that workforce communication styles are changing and we’re never going back to the “command and control” top down style in the association world. It seems the same holds true in the corporate and government sector.

Jeff DeCagna, chief strategist of Principled Innovation, told me that 21st century [association] leaders increasingly rely on “collaboration, listening and nurturing,” rather than command and control.
At a big association gathering I attended last month, Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, said that introverts are increasingly finding their way to the corner office. She also said you need to understand that introverts on your team aren't "lesser contributors or less successful in social interaction." Instead, they process knowledge and interact with their surroundings in a quieter way. "They tend to be passionate, but somewhat shy and value periods of solitude which allow them to be [optimally] creative."

Getting personal

My wife and I had a heated debate the other night about who’s not paying enough attention to the other. She claimed I no longer have the ability (or willingness) to listen to what she’s trying to share with me. I claim she no longer has the ability to summarize information or divvy it up into digestible chunks that I can handle after a long day of being communicated to. I’m try to follow what she’s sharing, but get overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of details and nuance she can pick out of things that happen to her during the day

Does any of this sound familiar?


Whether it’s in your work, your family or volunteer settings, we could all do a better job of respecting each other’s personality types (i.e. introverts vs. extroverts) and communication style (free-flowing conversational vs. bullet-point and concise; emphathy vs. problem solving).

If you naturally dominate the room, learn to let others into the conversation as they may have great insights to share with the group. If you’re naturally shy, learn to speak up. If you’re a great story teller, maybe you can work on giving the abbreviated version first, and reigning back on the details unless your conversation partner truly asks for them. And if folks are telling you that NOT everything in life can be condensed into 140-characters or a few terse bullet points, then maybe allow those around you to share a few details and some color. It’s not only how they communicate information, it’s how they tell you they’re feeling.

Make each day about doing great work, not about laboring to communicate.

More tips can be found on the FREE Resources page of our website.


Tags: Association Adviser, Jeff DeCagna, Susan Cain, Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking men vs. women communication

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