HL 170921 385 1 Edith


Miscommunication in the workplace

Fighting miscommunication builds stronger relationships in the workplace. Miscommunication works like a virus, says Edith Doosje. She is founder and co-owner of Process Communication Netherlands and has decades of experience training and coaching executives. "Miscommunication in the workplace is often dismissed as something innocent, but when you don't intervene, it can have major consequences. From annoyances and distrust to increased absenteeism and burnouts." It is therefore important to recognize the virus of miscommunication at an early stage and nip it in the bud. This can be done with the Process Communication Model (PCM).

HL 170921 385 1 Edith

A manager who dives straight into a cubicle on Monday morning and gets to work, without paying attention to the social needs of employees. A colleague who speaks at the top of every meeting and has an opinion about everything. Or a client who pays no attention to your carefully constructed proposal, but is only interested in the costs at the end. These are all situations in which the virus of miscommunication is already haunting, Doosje knows from her long experience. According to her, miscommunication on the workfloor is often dismissed as something harmless, while the consequences are potentially major if no one intervenes. "From annoyances and distrust to increased absenteeism and burnouts."

Communication is often more important than the content of work

Most of the issues that arise in organisations are rooted in miscommunication. It is therefore significant that McKinsey calculated that 39 per cent of job satisfaction is determined by interpersonal relationships, making them more important than whether a person finds his or her work interesting. Within those workplace relationships, the one with the supervisor is by far the most important, the same study shows.

Doosje herself also did a lot of research about miscommunication in organisations. There, she often heard the same grievances. Think of comments such as: "My manager doesn't listen to what I have to say anyway", "I'm not even going to explain it anymore, there's no point anyway" or "I'm just doing my job and they can figure it out for themselves." Doosje: "The interesting thing about these kinds of cases is that the dissatisfaction actually has nothing to do with the content of work, but is purely about the way of communication. So there is a lot of progress to be made there." Here, The Process Communication Model (PCM) helps and teaches professionals to positively influence their way of communicating and motivating, thus nipping miscommunication in the bud. The basis: don't treat the other as you want to be treated, but as the other person wants to be treated.

Everything starts with self-awareness

How does PCM work? The model describes six personality types that we all have within us: from the 'Structured Thinker' and the 'Persister to the 'Rebel' or the 'Imaginer'. Doosje: “We all have a different combination of these types, what we at PCM call your 'personality house'. The good news is: you can take the elevator in your own house, tapping into exactly the part that makes it easier to reach the other person. Practising PCM to communicate better and build valuable relationships in the workplace consists of several steps, Doosje explains. "First of all, it is crucial to be aware of your own personality. When you know your own preferences, you know what it takes to feel good about yourself. This helps you manage energy and stress."

What it takes to take good care of yourself depends on your personality. Doosje: "Suppose you are rational, responsible and organized. Then you probably ask a lot of questions, and you like it when people ask a lot of questions back to you as well. You also probably function well within a certain time structure and find recognition for your work important. If you don't get this recognition, big chance that you will work harder and more. And that you react with frustration and anger when people fail to keep their appointments or processes are inefficient. By recognizing that this is the way your personality works and being aware of the way you communicate, you will learn to organize your work in the best possible way and recognize more quickly when you are in a good or bad mood. How you often feel has a big impact on the way you communicate. Noise and miscommunication arise more quickly when you are not comfortable in your own skin.”

Connecting by adapting to the other person

When you have a better understanding of your own patterns and preferences, you can focus on the other person. By observing others and recognizing what they say and do, you learn what their preferences are and the best way to approach them. "By paying attention to things like word usage, tone, gestures, body posture and facial expression, you can learn a lot about someone's preferences,"Doosje advises. "Does someone have a warm voice, open attitude and sensitive and focused on relationships? Big chance you are dealing with someone with a lot of 'Harmoniser energy'. If you only ask substantive questions to such a person, because that is your preference, you will not connect."

It is therefore important to adapt your communication style to everything you notice in the other person. Doosje: "With the aforementioned 'Harmoniser type', this involves, for example, making room for personal contact and sharing more on an emotional level how you experience certain situations. By doing that, you make a connection. And you can still ask those substantive questions afterwards. If you don't do this, the other person is much less likely to hear what you have to say." By paying attention to how both you and the other person communicate, it is possible to establish more valuable relationships in the workplace as well as having less hassle, says Doosje. "No one is the same, we all know that. By being aware of yourself and of the other person and by putting this into practice, you communicate with less noise and build stronger relationships. That requires some effort, but it is well worth it.”

Read more about Positive communication skills with PCM
Edith Doosje - 1 March 2023
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