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Sunday, May 12 2019
Most of us have heard the saying “teamwork makes the dream work” but how true is this statement?
According to the Joint Commission for Hospital Accreditation in the analysis of 2455 sentinel events reported, it was revealed that the primary root cause in over 70% of the cases was communication failure. Reflecting on the seriousness of these occurrences, approximately 75% of these patients died. (1) These numbers might seem scary at first, but if we analyze the primary cause of these occurrences, it is evident that communication or lack of thereof, is the primary culprit. Maintaining and exercising effective communication is fundamental for the success of any business, organization and our own personal relationships.
One of the most important lessons that I learned while pursuing my Masters Degree was the importance of keeping an open mind and actively listen to the thoughts and opinions of my classmates. Every class had a team project as part of the curriculum which accounted for the vast majority of our grade. In addition to learning teamwork, time management and accountability; effective communicating with our peers was pivotal to the success of our projects. Being able to effectively communicate and listen to those who we work with, is essential to successfully accomplish the goals at hand.
But how can we improve these statistics and apply them not only our workplace but our life? Below we provide some global strategies to improve communication in various settings.
1- Be Present
We live in an era where smartphones can be used as a powerful tool to increase productivity but they can also serve as a distraction. When engaging in conversation, put your phone down and give the listener your undivided attention. Focus on the other person, their words, expressions and delivery. Consciously make an effort to quiet your own internal conversation, and actively listen to the speaker.
2- Take time to understand the message
It is very possible that you are tempted to respond right away, after all we all have a point of view. However, responding without taking the time to understand the essence of the message can result in critical evaluations of the speaker and missing the point that the other person is trying to make. Rather, focus on what they are saying instead of the messenger. (2)
3- It’s not what you say, but how you say it
When delivering a message, learn as much as you can about your audience before hand. This will help you in choosing the proper tone, words and delivery method. Remember that words carry a literal as well as a connotative meaning. The point that you are trying to make might be accurate but in order to achieve the desired effect on the listeners you must choose the right way to deliver it. (4)
4- Put it in Writing
In order to avoid confusion and keep all listeners on track towards the desired goal, it is recommended that one of the parties involved in the conversation sends a written recap of what was discussed. The recap should include the most important points, any pending items and who is responsible for achieving each task. This creates clear accountability and a point of reference for any future discussions and follow ups.
Communication is one of the most effective ways to keep your team motivated, yet it is often overlooked. Schedule weekly meetings to keep your team members in the loop and open the line of communication among colleagues. Share your successes and your failures, after all no one is perfect and your team members can benefit from understanding the lessons that you, the leader, learned along the way. (3)
The next time you are in a group meeting, having dinner with friends or confronted with a situation that puts your communication skills to the test, remember these strategies and put them into practice to obtain the most effective results.
(1)The human factor: the critical importance of effective teamwork and communication in providing safe care
(2)Mastering the Basics of Communication
(3)Communication Techniques That Motivate Others To Become Better