How to be a better communicator in your team


Published: 23 Jul 2018



Know when to stop talking and start listening. How does this help you?

  • When emotions are high?
  • In team situations?
  • When people have viewpoints they want to share?
  • People who don’t listen naturally distance themselves from their teams. They also miss the individual make up of differing personalities in their teams. More importantly you could be missing issues of perceived personal safety and security or ideas that could benefit the business.

So what is good listening?

  • Attending closely to what’s being said, not to what you want to say next.
  • Allowing others to finish speaking before taking a turn
  • Repeating back what you’ve heard to give the speaker the opportunity to clarify what they mean.


Leading the conversation to the benefit of all involved

This involves actively seeking to involve the other party in the conversation and acknowledging their input and contribution – not just wait for your turn to talk and say what you want! A key feature of gaining mutual benefit in a conversation is in repeating back what you heard. This helps you remain focused and signals to the team member that they are being heard.


  • Hearing what is said
  • Integrating it into the topic at hand
  • Saying something to move the conversation forward



Need information, but not sure how to get it?

Remember others have exactly the same issue, and YOU may be their source of information.  They may also be trying to tell you information.

Keep the lines of communication open, and check on people often especially if:

  • In direct conflict with someone.
  • If you are concerned about another employee’s conduct.
  • If someones performance has dropped substantially.
  • If there is a health issue or personal problem.
  • If someone wants genuine advice on how to get ahead


Remember to keep your promises – don’t say things you can’t deliver on.

Effective communication in questions – Be direct – give directions clearly and unequivocally so people know exactly what to do and when. If you are not sure they understood you – check!

Great communication means that your team feels valued and that they can openly interact with you. You should notice the effects of good communication on a daily basis if you are observant.

  • Ask closed questions when appropriate. YES/NO. These are useful when you just need to check on an issue and need a quick answer.
  • Ask open questions, that can’t be answered yes/no when you are seeking information. Example: What do you think would be the best way to go about this? How are you doing on that project? What went wrong? Open questions stop you making assumptions.
  • Ask personal questions when appropriate:They help you to build a relationship. Keep them general e.g.: Did you have a nice weekend, inquiring about their families.


Remember to use discretion

Trust is vital to relationships. Don’t betray their trust or pass on personal information. This is particularly important if you have people you know working in the workforce. De-personalisation of issues can be a problem.

In a conflict situation? This is a great formula that really works!

Heard – listen well. Psychology tells us that if you can listen for up to 6 minutes then the self-analysis stage kicks in for the venter. If you butt in, talk over them, try to justify, or apologise too soon, with someone who is really angry it just makes things worse – especially if they are in that magic 3% of the population who are behaviourally challenged with narcissism, or sociopathic behaviour.


Empathy – this is the most often missed out stage of dealing with customer/peer concerns, complaints or disappointments. You need to show that you understand the way they feel and their point of view. Paraphrasing is your secret weapon for this as by repeating back to them a summary of what they have said you should be able to reach common ground of what has actually happened. So something like, “so, if I hear you correctly you are frustrated because we/I…..?”


Apologise – but not too soon, and not before the first two stages above. Apologies should come AFTER you have stated the facts. By leading with the facts you are more likely to protect the brand and still retain brand advocacy from your customer. Remember to consider whether you could say “WE apologise for the mistake”, not I. If you personally own it too readily you run the risk of being targeted as incompetent.

So lead with the facts using statements such as “Unfortunately….” “It is unusual for our business, but on this occasion…..” Bring the apology in afterwards.


Resolve – the more someone feels empowered – the faster the problem or issue will be resolved. Ensure that everyone involved knows their boundaries of empowerment and resolve issues quickly to prevent further frustration from the customer.


Diagnose – the most important stage. If the issue is not diagnosed then it may keep happening. By full resolving, you may identify a training need of a particular person, a performance defect that needs correcting, or a part of the systems or procedures that are ineffective.



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