Communication is a Two-Way Street

Business leaders consistently list being able to communicate effectively as a major key to success. Industrial psychologists have documented that effective communication is the lifeblood of good relationships with business associates, customers, vendors and investors. Yet, the American Management Association reports that 90% of all problems in an organization is a direct result of poor communication. Marriage and family counselors also point to poor communication as a common reason for interpersonal conflicts.

Why is there such a failure to communicate?

One reason is that people fail to keep in mind that effective communication does not occur merely because a message has been presented. More important than what is said is how others perceive and respond to what is said. The greatest obstacle to good communication is the assumption that communication has taken place when it hasn’t.

The dictionary defines communication as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviors. This means that communication is a two-way street, involving a sender and a receiver. The sender’s responsibility is to present a clear message. The receiver’s responsibility is to (1) hear (2) interpret (3) evaluate and (4) respond to the message.

Good communication can occur when the sender and the receiver show mutual respect. The sender shows respect through the words used and the receiver shows respect through actively listening to what the sender has to say. It is a give and take situation with both parties doing some giving and taking during the process.

Steps to Effective Communication

Clarify your ideas before attempting to communicate them.

What specifically do you want the person or group to receive? Do you have a firm grasp of your primary idea, concept or message? People often spend more time beating around the bush than getting to the core of what needs to be communicated.

With empathy, acknowledge the rights and feelings of others.

Everyone has needs, wants, objectives and resources. When you relate to people in an acceptable way, you build credibility and trust. This helps create open, positive dialogue. Be yourself, but speak from the perspective and competency level of the receiver.

Be honest.

While using tact and good manners, make sure you are also honest. If you are not honest, integrity is lost. Communication is destroyed. Be compassionate in your truthfulness. Often, the manner in which you say something is more important than what you say.

Pay attention to your body language.

From 75 to 95% of communication is nonverbal. People respect and respond to good eye contact, smiles, cordial voice tones, good posture, enthusiasm and well-placed humor. And even though you are told, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” people do judge you by your appearance.

Listen when someone else is talking.

The greatest communicators are not necessarily the greatest speakers. More often than not, they are the greatest listeners. Good listening is an absolute necessity for good communication. If there is no receiver, then the sender is wasting his or her time.

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Customer Service Lessons from Nature

Service Hummingbird Motivational PosterLike the relationship between you and your customers, the relationship between hummingbirds and flowers is complex and uniquely interwoven. To re-discover the keys to great service and build an enduring, mutually beneficial relationship with each customer, we need only look to nature. The Green Mango Hummingbird, with its rare combination of creativity, energy and stamina, provides valuable lessons for every staff member who interacts with your customers.

Capitalize on your unique abilities.
Able to hover in place for extended periods of time, the Green Mango takes advantage of its natural assets to access the pollen in flowers that would otherwise go un-“serviced.” In turn, the pollinated flowers ultimately multiply offering more nectar for the bird in the future.
What are your organization’s unique strengths and how can you maximize them for your customer’s benefit?

Approach every customer contact with energy.
Though we generally see hummingbirds in flight, they spend the majority of their time perched. When the moment arrives, though, they are ready to get to work. With wings beating up to 50 times per second and lungs taking over 300 breaths per minute, these remarkable birds do all they can to pollinate the flowers while simultaneously collecting nectar for their nourishment.
Does each of your customers feel you’ve given your all to help them achieve their goals?

Be prepared.
When it comes time to migrate, the hummingbird prepares for the journey by feeding until it has doubled its weight. With enough fuel on board, the tiny bird is able to fly to its destination (as long as 20 hours) without stopping…all just to serve its next “customers.”
Are you prepared to serve your customers over the long haul?

If you’re looking to optimize your customer relationships during these challenging times, take a moment to view them through nature’s lens. The perspective you gain could make the difference.

See our Service Hummingbird Motivational Poster.

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Communicate Your Organizational Values

It’s not enough to just define your organizational values…

you must support them with everything that you say and do –

day in and day out!

Studies have shown that it takes 5 or 6 exposures of a message for it to be absorbed and understood. And your organizational values are some of the most important messages you need to communicate to your people. That’s why you need to support your vision and beliefs in everything you do – every single day. Tell them your values…then tell them again…and then tell them one more time. It’s the only way to ensure your entire organization is focused on your success.

Here are four clear steps to ensure that everyone in your organization knows your core values, understands how these values work within your culture, and embraces them with every action.

* Step 1: Communicate

Don’t just whisper, SHOUT your organization’s vision and core beliefs at every opportunity: on your walls, at meetings, at every desk, through everything you do.

* Step 2: Educate

Make sure everyone knows your values and understands their role in supporting them. Put your employee handbooks in themed binders, offer seminars and workshops that support your core values, and use other materials to constantly educate your people.

* Step 3: Reinforce

From the pens they write with to the desktop images that inspire them to the mugs they drink out of, reinforce what’s important to your organization all the time.

* Step 4: Recognize

Acknowledge those who embody your organizational goals with monthly, quarterly and annual awards. And when you see someone exemplifying your values, reward them immediately with instant recognition to encourage those positive behaviors.

When people at every level in your organization know your core values it will lead you to great success!

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When it Comes to Recognition, Too Much is Never Enough

When it comes to recognition, it’s important to remember…too much is never enough. While formal monthly, quarterly and yearly recognition presentations are crucial, it is the day-to-day acknowledgments that can motivate any person, any team and any organization to reach their full potential.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when recognizing your people:
• Link achievement to organizational goals

Reinforcement leads to repeat behavior, so be sure you’re reinforcing actions you want repeated.
• Fit the award to the accomplishment

Use a variety of recognition techniques and awards that are equal to the accomplishment.


• Familiarize yourself with the people receiving recognition

Learn about the people you’re recognizing and the details about what they’ve done.


• Publicize their achievements

No matter how big or how small, make some noise when sharing worker’s accomplishments. It is a celebration and should be treated as such.


• Be spontaneous and timely

It doesn’t take significant planning or a huge budget to give verbal praise or pass along an appreciative note. And don’t wait – when you see someone going above and beyond, recognize it immediately.
• Be genuine

Your sincerity will shine through. Tell them why they’ve earned the award and sincerely thank them for their efforts.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to recognize your people in a meaningful way, either. Here are some low-cost, high-impact ways you can say “Great job!”

• Catch them in the act!

Whether it is at their desk, in a meeting or in an informal discussion, when you catch somebody going above and beyond, hand out some kind of instant award – a medallion, a sticker or a gift card, for instance. You can even set up a redemption system where they can collect these pieces and “earn” bigger prizes!

• Put it in writing.

So often, employees cite “not being recognized” as a reason for dissatisfaction. A hand-written notecard is a powerful yet cost-effective way to tell your people you value their contributions. Take time out once a week to write two or three cards. You’ll be amazed at the results.

• Give them bragging rights.

When a customer or another employee takes time to commend one of your people—shout about it! Create a brag board where letters and commendations can be posted. Hand out forms coworkers can fill out to recognize one another’s performance. Show them you’re proud of their accomplishments!

• Travel to new heights.

Select an award that can be used as a traveling award – the more fun, the better! A unique object, such as a small statuette, one of our positive pals, or a product your own company manufactures, can be used. Then, once a month, present it to a person or team that has demonstrated a positive attitude or great teamwork. Treat them all to a small gift or a nice meal and allow them to pick the next recipients. Get everyone involved in the process and really build excitement!

These are just a few ideas – have fun with your recognition efforts and help your people (and your organization) succeed!

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