Episode 5 - Communicate Consistently
[00:00:00] Lauren Marie: Welcome to The Integrated Leader Podcast. I'm Lauren Marie, and I'm with my partner in business and in life, Loren Kutsko. We are the founders of Kutsko Consulting, an organization that enables human collaboration by providing the right data and technology to lead your people.
[00:00:20] We are introducing a learning program for leaders called the 8 Dimensions of a Healthy Team. As a leader, management and coaching is something you need to be doing every single day, so why not be excellent at it?
[00:00:32] In this eight part series you will be introduced to the basic principles to engage, grow, and align your team for success. It's simple, but rarely is it easy. If you want to reflect on the current status of your team as you listen along, we have a free assessment at teamhealthscore.com that will give you a baseline of where your team stands today.
[00:00:53] You can also learn all about our other products and services like hiring assessments, individual coaching, group coaching and certifications. Thankfully, there's a growing awareness in many organizations about the benefits of Emotional Intelligence and the importance of self-reflection. More and more executives are discovering the impact that these have on the multiple bottom lines they are accountable to scale. Business is personal, So let's be good at it.
[00:01:19] In this episode of The Integrated Leader, we will be exploring the fifth of the 8 Dimensions of a Healthy Team, Team Communication.
[00:01:27] Loren: Our goal is to define what it is, and have a conversation about how and why it impacts the health of a team and what you can do about it as a leader.
[00:01:36] Lauren Marie: Nice to be with you today.
[00:01:37] It's nice to be with you. So today we're talking about the fifth dimension, communication.
[00:01:44] Why is communication part of the eight dimensions of a healthy team?
[00:01:49] Loren: Communication is almost everything.
[00:01:50] Lauren Marie: It's 98% of all the things. Yeah.
[00:01:53] Loren: When you're talking about interacting with other people, collaborating, working together, leadership, it's all communication. It is about the exchange of two people. And I think even if you're not necessarily transferring information back and forth, then there's energy moving back and forth.
[00:02:09] And I think that's what communication means. This is how you and I work together. And what we maybe often think of as written, we've got all kinds of written communication now, text messages, emails, verbal. But what we know about communication is that those things I just mentioned are a very small percentage of how the human body actually receives information.
[00:02:30] So much of communication is happening through these non-verbals and body language. If you're going to aspire to be a leader, if you are a leader, if you're going to be responsible for helping to move people towards a better future. Then you really need to develop your communication skills.
[00:02:46] You have to be good at this. If you're on a team and you're an individual contributor, you're not actually responsible for leading anybody else, you still need to be really good at communication. Everybody needs to be good at these things.
[00:02:58] Lauren Marie: So that's why you included it in your healthy team dimension.
[00:03:01] Loren: That's why it's here. So we define effective team communication as how aware of and adaptable the members of your team are to a variety of communication styles and approaches to getting things done. So the other thing we're going to talk about is how different people communicate differently.
[00:03:17] It sounds almost too simple to even say, but people are different and they communicate differently. So we just talked about compatibility. It's getting deeper into that. When, how does this work when we're actually communicating with one another, because we talked in that episode about how to assemble a team based on their differences.
[00:03:38] Do you want a diverse team? Do you want everybody to be similar because their roles are similar and this we're going to talk about now that we're on the team together and we're communicating, how do I respect the fact that you tend to communicate differently than I do? How do I appreciate that? How do I adapt myself towards that?
[00:03:53] And part of the reason that that needs to happen is because it really is about the communicator choosing to communicate differently so that the listener receives the information. So there's gotta be this feedback loop. You always have to check for understanding. That's a lot of what we're going to be talking about today.
[00:04:11] Lauren Marie: Is there a proper way to ask for understanding, because in the last episode where we were talking about giving feedback, there was a process to follow.
[00:04:22] And it was like four steps. Is there a way to make sure that someone understands what you're trying to communicate?
[00:04:29] Loren: Yeah, one thing is just to just put yourself more in a mode of asking than telling. A lot of times we just tend to think of ourselves as having something to say, I need to be heard.
[00:04:39] And so much of communication actually doesn't happen effectively when we're shouting at people. This feels a little bit funny to say, when I've got this big microphone in my face, this is a one-way shouting thing we’re talking about, you know, we're like, we're a podcast. So when people can't really interact with so much of the communication in an interpersonal way, isn't a monolog, it's a dialogue.
[00:04:58] It is about, did you hear me? What do you think I just said? Can you repeat that back to me? And then doing the same thing when you're the listener. So active listening skills in a lot of ways are about reflecting back what you heard, asking questions that keep the conversation going and being skilled at that.
[00:05:13] These are all skills that you can learn. And you can learn these things and you need to, if you're going to lead a team.
[00:05:19] Lauren Marie: One of the ways you set up our definitions for each of the dimensions is you defined each of these dimensions is a measurable, metric.
[00:05:29] Can you tell me why you did that? How can people take the test or understand their team communication?
[00:05:36] Loren: We want people to be able to grow and improve, and all of these things, all of these dimensions are skills that you can work towards. So we don't feel like it's super helpful to say, for example, if we're talking about, you know, let's say we're talking about a basketball team, and we don't think it's super helpful to say, you know, the tallest people are going to be the best basketball players because you can't really go home and make yourself taller. There's different heights that you just are.
[00:06:01] Now, there's other things on a basketball team that you can be better at if you're maybe leaner or stronger. You can go do strength training to grow your muscles. So we wanted to frame everything as much as we could into things that you can work on. So these are skills that you can develop. In order to really know how you're progressing, you need a baseline. You need to know, what is the metric? When we take our kids into the doctor, the pediatrician, you know, we know that they're going to weigh them, they're going to measure their height.
[00:06:31] They do this with adult physicals too, right, but these are just two basic things, right? Every time we go in, and it's not that they're necessarily coming in and saying you know, good or bad, but they're just basically by measuring it over and over and over again, you can see change. We want you to be able to do the same thing with each of these eight dimensions. Communication is set up in a measurable way.
[00:06:52] Lauren Marie: And they can do this at teamhealthscore.com
[00:06:56] Loren: Yeah. So the, the quick assessment for you to take this for yourself for a no charge is teamhealthscore.com
[00:07:02] Lauren Marie: And it gives you a metric on all of the eight dimensions. That's right. And specifically with the communication dimension, what is it that you're measuring?
[00:07:11] Loren: We've got three questions on there to self assess your team's communication we've got a lot of open-ended questions as well, but we wanted the, you know, the kind of the measuring stick to be pretty simple and straightforward.
[00:07:22] We also use a variety of certified assessments that are statistically reliable and valid, and they are measured. And in that we have a bunch of different communication skills. So in the list of 25 competencies, there is a handful that are particularly related to communication.
[00:07:37] Those ones are going to be benchmarked against every other test taker out there. So depending on where you want to go with communication, if you're developing employees, if you're developing yourself, there's all kinds of assessments that we can use to give you feedback about how you're doing and what you need to grow in.
[00:07:51] Lauren Marie: Great. On a team, what would be the indicators of healthy communication?
[00:07:59] Loren: A big part of it is that it's happening, that it's flowing. I think one of the things that we've been talking about a lot is making the implicit explicit. What we don't want is a team where communication isn't happening.
[00:08:13] We want to be able to say hard things to one another. We want to be able to share constructive feedback, and we want to be able to almost measure the flow. So it's almost like a water meter. What's the rate that this water is coming through the pipes. What's the rate that the water's going through the creek or the river.
[00:08:29] We want to be able to see that communication is moving. The more communication is happening, the healthier the team communication is. I think a lot of times things lock up for people. So they start to feel, and there's a lot of overlap here with the Team Trust dimension, right, and psychological safety.
[00:08:45] If people don't feel safe, they're not going to share. If they're afraid that what they have to say is going to hurt somebody's feelings and it's going to create a decrease in that person's productivity, or it's going to bum them out, then they might be kind of sitting on that news and they're not sharing it.
[00:09:00] And we talked about, last time that when that goes over and over and over and over again, and it stretches for a long time, then all of a sudden what started out as a pebble, you know, or a snowflake becomes a snowball or a boulder. It's about making it easy on your team from a cultural standpoint.
[00:09:19] And this happens by developing these skills to keep communication flowing. The healthiest teams are able to say, if you're talking about football, they're able to have the huddle, which is communication before the play. And then during the play, they're able to give each other feedback and signal to one another, that things have changed.
[00:09:35] And then after the play, they're able to say, that didn't go the way that we were hoping that it would, can you do this differently next time? And that's not bad news. It's about keeping the communication flowing.
[00:09:47] Lauren Marie: Yeah, it does seem, that, at this point into the eight dimensions, it is all built on top of the last one. So healthy communication, if you think of it like this water that's flowing, the temperature at which you're getting hit with this water, like the communication can feel safe and warm and nice and secure, or it can feel like really cold water coming at you and it's irritating and aggravating and you don't want it. You want to get out of it as fast as possible.
[00:10:17] Loren: And I think that's a great example. I think part of what happens is people go to work and they work with people and they realize, I'd rather just be kind of a loner. Yeah, why, why am I here? And, and it's an unfortunate thing about the way that our systems operate because in a lot of careers, you have to work with other people, but it's okay to be a loner. I think again, making the implicit explicit, like just own it. If you don't want to work with other people, if you don't want to manage, if you don't want to develop your communication skills and learn how to appreciate and put other people before you don't be a leader, you don't have to do that.
[00:10:50] You have many other options. All the things are choices. Be a writer, you know, like you can write, you never interact with anybody, but if you're going to interact with people, then be good at it.
[00:11:00] Lauren Marie: What is the role as the leader of the team, to create an environment where healthy communication is happening?
[00:11:07] Loren: I love this basic definition of leadership that I got from Don Worcester. He said, “a leader goes first.” I think a lot of times we're trying to make leadership sounds so complicated, like, what is this? Is a leader a visionary, is a leader a manager? But the leader is the first one to go and then the followers follow.
[00:11:27] Lauren Marie: They have to have followers, though.
[00:11:27] Loren: Yeah. I mean, you're not a leader if there's nobody behind you. So I think that's a helpful thing to put into the definition. But I think when you're thinking about communication, vulnerability, we've talked about, the leader is the one that's going to go first to model the behavior that's healthy on the team. As it relates to communication. That means you can't be, if you want everybody to be really good listeners, you can't spend the whole time talking just because you're the leader. You need to be really good at asking questions and drawing other people out and listening to them. You need to be really good at adapting your communication style.
[00:12:00] A lot of times what happens on teams is that certain communication styles build up because people have a tendency to fill, to put people around them who are like them, birds of a feather flock together. And what happens is when you get multiple people with similar communication styles, it starts to become harder and harder and harder to appreciate people who communicate differently than that group. So there's this center of gravity that makes it difficult when someone different shows up. The leader really needs to be the one to say my way is not the best way. There are a thousand different ways to communicate.
[00:12:38] And just because my preferences are like this, and I've got a couple other people on the team who are like me, we're all going to do a lot of work to deprioritize the way we tend to communicate so that these other people feel valued. And so that they can communicate. And sometimes that's introverted versus extroverted, sometimes that's people that, you know, show up with a lot to say, they've got a lot of questions. And then there's people on the team that are more introverted that are extremely valuable, but they're not pushing their ideas in front of anybody. Their ideas need to be drawn out of them and pulled. Those are skills that you can develop in yourself and on your team.
[00:13:12] Lauren Marie: I think pulled is a strong word, it sounds aggressive. Can we say invite? Permission? Invited out? Made space for?
[00:13:21] Loren: Yeah. I mean, You're slightly more introverted I guess. I mean, I'm not going to push my idea about there. You don't like to be pulled, but you'd rather be invited.
[00:13:27] Lauren Marie: I would like to be invited. Hey Lauren, what's your thought on this?
[00:13:30] Loren: Yeah.
[00:13:33] Lauren Marie: Oh, you want me to speak? Because, I'm not waiting for the silence to shove something in. Which I do think there are people who are.
[00:13:40] Loren: Oh, absolutely. And that's not bad either. Right? We, we, I think we tend to give people who have a lot of ideas and jump in and interrupt one another, we like to say that that's bad, but neither thing is really bad. It's not bad to wait to be called on and it's not bad to just interject. Neither one is bad, they're different. And we all need to be good at adapting ourselves. So if you're the type of person who tends to jump in and interject, and maybe you have a tendency towards interrupting others, then you need to be good at knowing how to control that.
[00:14:12] If you're the type of person that likes to be called on and invited, then it's up to you to realize people aren't always going to do that. When something needs to be said, I'm going to adapt my introverted style into a more extroverted style and volunteer the information that I have. So we all need to adapt.
[00:14:31] We all need to be able to choose to adapt know when it's necessary, and we really have to know our starting place. So we have to be self-aware enough to know this is how I show up by default. And then once I know my starting place, then I can choose to change it.
[00:14:46] Lauren Marie: Right. And you can understand your starting place by using our assessments and having a debrief with me.
[00:14:52] Loren: That's a big, big reason why we're doing so many self discovery coaching sessions is because people really don't always know how they are and the feedback that they get from people and the world and their bosses and their coworkers and their parents, just the, the systems of culture and society give us feedback and it's not always right.
[00:15:13] That's a big reason why we value these assessment tools is because they are validated and real and we can trust them. We can trust them... You have to trust them to do the things that they're made to do. So you can't use a Myers-Briggs assessment or an Emotional Quotient or Enneagram to make a hiring decision, but you can certainly use it to increase self-awareness and awareness of others on a team.
[00:15:37] Lauren Marie: So are there ingredients to healthy communication?
[00:15:41] Loren: Absolutely. The four skills you need to develop as a leader are listening skills, the skill of empathy, the skill of understanding others and the skill of adapting yourself towards other people's communication styles.
[00:15:54] And I think the first one is. Listening is a skill that you can develop. And I think one major takeaway is that it's always the first thing that you do. Again, don't go into a conversation saying these are all the things I've got to say, and I'm going to tell people what they need to know, but you go in saying, I'm going to come into the room and ask and listen.
[00:16:14] And honestly, even when you do have something to tell, to realize that asking maybe a better way to convey your message. So it's a skill to be able to know the difference and discern that, and then choose to do the right behavior based on the right situation. Very related to the next thing I would say, which is empathy.
[00:16:32] Empathy is being able to understand another person's perspective and feelings, and, and really kind of put yourself into their shoes. That's a skill you can develop. It's not just like, some people are more naturally empathic than others. They may be. But if you have a low level of empathy, you can measure that and you can grow it and develop just like any other skill.
[00:16:53] Empathy is a skill. They're slightly different than mirroring and labeling, which are more like techniques to know how to use. So being able to mirror and being able to label doesn't mean that you're a good listener, but what we want to do is understand how humans communicate. And since we know all the things that we do about what's going on in their brains and their neurobiology, we know that mirroring and labeling sends signals that we're listening.
[00:17:21] We can do those things to help kind of grease the skids and lubricate the conversation a little bit. They're good skills to learn. They can be used for harm. We're not advocating manipulating people, but they're good to know how to do those things. And then understanding I would call a skill.
[00:17:38] So, I mean, it's kind of a skill understanding others. It's certainly a skill. But I think when I put it here it’s almost like a milestone or a checkpoint in your team leadership. Have you gone through the process? Have you done the work of understanding the people on your team? So it's kind of a finite task and a skill you can develop.
[00:17:59] Like, are you generally good at understanding others? And then adaptation is the skill to be able to notice when your style, your natural communication style is different than the person who you're trying to communicate with and then adapting towards them. People like people like themselves. Anytime you want to communicate with another person, you're going to be better off behaving like them than behaving like yourself.
[00:18:25] You'll feel a lot of energy and chemistry when you're communicating with somebody else who communicates like you naturally, those are the most fun conversations.
[00:18:33] You will get positive endorphins from interacting with somebody like you. So the skill there on adaptation is to change yourself like a chameleon into the person that you're talking to for the sake of healthy collaboration and communication.
[00:18:49] Lauren Marie: The responsibility of communication is that of the sender. The sender needs to make sure that the listener has heard the message and understands it. Right. And a way they can improve the pathway of understanding is by adapting towards that person.
[00:19:07] Because if you don't adapt, it's like having an antenna on your television and there's some static, because there are things happening in the conversation that are going to distract the other person from hearing what you have to say. Right. But when you adapt and become more like that person, maybe for me, that would be adapting to become more detail oriented, more precise with my words, more calculated, then they are going to hear more of what I'm trying to say.
[00:19:36] And it becomes high definition because they're not going to be confused by my random analogies, like, oh, you're going in order. And you have a steady pace and there's an agenda.
[00:19:48] Loren: Yeah. And I think that's a good example. How does that feel to you when you try to do those things? I mean, you just listed some things that are not your natural communication style and when you are intentional like that, what does that feel like?
[00:19:59] Lauren Marie: Like I'm being squeezed through a hose...
[00:20:02] Loren: Right? It's not easy. It doesn't feel good. It's hard. One of the challenges is there's a lot of noise right now, and probably there has been for a long time. So I'm not necessarily making a comment about the zeitgeist, but there's this, “you do, you,” if I have an idea that I have the right to share that idea, nobody should make me change and be inauthentic with who I am.
[00:20:24] There's some truth in that maybe, on parts, but what we're talking about is being willing to give as a gift ourselves to other people, by doing the hard thing. And it's going to feel like being squeezed through a hose potentially, but it's worth it because I'm prioritizing the relationship.
[00:20:43] So I think of all kinds of, you know, anecdotes, right? There's the famous African proverb. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And it's similar to that, right? Like you're choosing the relationship over the goal over the speed.
[00:21:00] At work, a lot of times we do need to go fast. We have deadlines. What we're doing with the team is we're actually slowing down in order to speed up. Depending on your team, your environment, your competitors, your industry, you may have to go really quickly all the time.
[00:21:17] That is a good thing. When you're building a team, you may have to slowly build trust and communication skills with one another so that when things happen in an instant, everybody can go really fast. This is another thing where you can consider sports, we're going to practice and in practice, we're going to do things slow.
[00:21:39] We're going to do it over and over and over and over again until we get it right, because in the game we don't get to do that. So in the game, it has to be perfect. So in the practice, we're going to go slow so we can go fast during the game.
[00:21:53] It's also hard for me not to think about technology with this. There's all these new things that have come out in text messages, right?
[00:21:58] Like now I get feedback that my message was received. Like it landed on the other phone. Then I get an second message that says that the person has read it with a read receipt. So there's like these new things that are kind of happening that help us be good communicators because we know when the message was received, what's really tempting is to try to be efficient with communication at the cost of being effective with communication. The technology allows us to do things like CC people on an email, or send a mass message or do a mail merge or things like that. But every time we choose efficiency, we're decreasing effectiveness. So the most effective communication is going to be one-on-one synchronous. We’re together. I'm sending you a message.
[00:22:44] I get to see your body language. I get to hear you say that you heard me, I get to have your questions. That's not always practical. So we're working with people on our teams that are all over the world, different time zones. They're doing work when we're asleep, we're doing work when they're asleep, we're trying to communicate a single message to many, many people, hundreds, thousands.
[00:23:08] It becomes impractical to have one one-on-one conversation with thousands of people. So we decrease effectiveness willingly, to increase efficiency, But we need to know that when we do that, we're making a choice. There's a trade-off. I would argue that some technology is making it easier to have one-on-one back and forth, synchronous conversations in sequence, more effectively, actually than we can send a mass message in a broadcast way.
[00:23:36] Sometimes we just really have to not be lazy and think through, am I going to send one email to many people and then wipe my hands and say, well, I did that, check. My job here is done. When it would be way more effective to follow up a week later and say, does anybody have any questions? Who got my message?
[00:23:54] One of the other things I think about with this is wedding invitations. For many people, this is going to be the only time they do this in their whole life.
[00:24:00] So they make a list of all the most important people to them and they send out an invitation and they really want to know who's coming. They have to know they're going to pay for it. They've got to commit to the venue, to the caterer or whatever. So they pay for the stamp and they address the return envelope and they put it all in there.
[00:24:17] Like it's so important for me to get your response that I'm like holding your hand and walking you through this all the way. I give you a deadline, stamped envelope an addressed envelope. And I write all the information down. All you literally have to do is put the number. That's all you gotta do.
[00:24:31] So when it's really important, we know what to do on communication. And then what's the last thing you do, with wedding invitations, when you don't hear back? When the last week, the last week after that deadline, you get on that horn and you go through the list and you call the people that you haven't heard back from.
[00:24:48] And really all communication needs to be like that when you're deciding not to do that, you're making a deliberate decision.
[00:24:54] Lauren Marie: I think in today's culture. Having one-on-one conversations can be really vulnerable.
[00:25:00] Loren: Hmm. That's interesting. What do you mean?
[00:25:03] Lauren Marie: I think it goes back to the psychological safety aspect of our dimension, and if that is not there, it feels way safer to send this email or to give this feedback asynchronously through a screen, then actually sit with someone and tell them something.
[00:25:23] Loren: Yeah. Hard. Yeah. That's a really good point. I mean, we're also seeing a rampant quick increase in imposter syndrome. And I wonder if that has something to do with it.
[00:25:32] Like the scope of this conversation is team leaders. You don't want to have a culture in your team, or people are angrily hitting send to a bunch of people on the team after a meeting. Wou want to say, please don't send email ever if it's controversial, let's use written word, asynchronous communication, like email to communicate facts, not opinions.
[00:25:54] Let's put opinions into the meeting when people can respond and ask questions. But these things are, they're just hard. And one of your communication tools is a face-to-face meeting in the same room. And then you can do a phone call where at least you've got voice at the same time, you can do a video call where you've got body language and voice at the same time. And you want to go through that list in order and know that every time you take a step down that list, you're degrading the quality of the communication.
[00:26:21] And you might need to do that for certain kinds, but you want to take emotion out of the conversation commensurate with the step that you're on in that ladder of communication tools. So if it's controversial, if the stakes are high, if there's emotions in the mix, then you want to go up the ladder and you want to be face-to-face if you can, sometimes you can't, but you just want to be aware that I'm going to not force every single thing I have to say into this one email that I'm sending to everybody in the organization on Friday afternoon.
[00:26:50] Lauren Marie: I think also something that's at play is there is this sense of urgency at the office. I'm always afraid of interrupting or wasting someone's time when I should already know the answer.
[00:27:07] I don't want to waste your time and have an in-person conversation about this.
[00:27:11] Loren: Oh, that's interesting. I mean, that's insightful, right? Cause we were talking a little bit about psychological safety, which is willing to share that you don't have the answer. Right. And invite contribution without fear of retribution for not knowing the answer. It's actually, when we're talking about urgency and sort of sending these things and fear of the vulnerability of being together, I keep thinking about Emotional Intelligence.
[00:27:31] It's almost like everyone's running around at work with their amygdala hijacked. They're not really living out of their prefrontal cortex. They're operating with kind of their lizard brain. They, for some reason, perceive that they're under threat. So they're hurrying around sending emails, slack messages, text messages, all these things going on.
[00:27:50] I hope I don't get caught for this. I hope I don't get found out. I hope I got to say this really quickly. I'm scared. You're scared. We're all scared. We're just constantly harming each other at work because we're all filled with adrenaline and cortisol all the time and it's gotten way worse during COVID right?
[00:28:03] Cause we got zoom calls, zoom calls, zoom calls, zoom calls, pick the kids up from school, zoom call, mask. Everything's just sort of freaked out all the time. We're getting too much stimulus. I mean, we can't go into all this in this podcast episode, but it is just interesting.
[00:28:14] The hurriedness... it is about brain chemistry. It is about threat and cortisol and adrenaline and safety. As the leader of the team, again, it's just, it's your job to be the salve that heals people's open wounds and make it a safe environment so that people can be productive.
[00:28:36] Lauren Marie: Be the mom. Oh, my gosh, the leader’s, the mom.
[00:28:36] Loren: Bring some maternal instinct into this thing...
[00:28:41] Lauren Marie: Get the dinner table ready… Create a warm space for people to gather...
[00:28:44] Loren: All the feminists are sending us messages. Now that they're upset about this analogy, why would that upset them? I don't know. Because dads can set the table.
[00:28:52] Lauren Marie: How many times have you set the table?
[00:28:54] Loren: Here we go.
[00:28:57] Lauren Marie: That's another conversation guys. The feminine energy at the office.
[00:29:02] Loren: Tune in next time...
[00:29:04] Lauren Marie: I think that there is something to that though. The business communication style, culturally at most organizations is quick, direct, on task, get it done, ask your clarifying questions...
[00:29:21] And it's a secondary skill to do, as a leader is to build this trust, sit down with them... Hey, who are your kids? How do you like to be celebrated? All of these things that we've talked about already, but it's putting on a different hat, on purpose.
[00:29:38] Loren: And you're, you're naming things that have tended to be masculine.
[00:29:42] And you're also naming things that have been prioritized in the workplace that are more, more task oriented, like a high D. So we use DISC on all of our teams to understand their communication style and their culture and the things that you just mentioned are very high D things high C things right, they’re direct they're task oriented it's right or it's wrong.
[00:30:01] And they're not nuanced, in some ways there's this bifurcation between those kinds of things being assumed to be corporate and business. And then there's the other skills which maybe are perceived to be a little bit more poetic and story and narrative and art and so actually we want to bring the left brain and the right brain together.
[00:30:21] We want whole brain team communication and leadership, and recognizing that this is an issue and that you as the leader are the one that can learn these things and lead your team in this way.
[00:30:33] Lauren Marie: So when a team doesn't have effective communication, what do they lose? How is that hitting the bottom line? What are the struggles? What are the red flags that your team might not have communication skills?
[00:30:44] Loren: It's hard. I mean, there's part of me that wants to just say, you're going to feel it. You're going to know something's wrong. You aren't jumping out of bed to go to work every day. And it could be because things are under the surface that need to be brought out. And it could be that they're not above the surface because people on the team don't have the skills developed to communicate in healthy ways with one another.
[00:31:07] So I think part of it is this subjective feeling that you're going to have, to make it more objective. I think you can use assessments like DISC. I think you can use a skills assessments or strengths assessments to just have, I mean, you know, they're still subjective. They're still people self-reporting and survey questions, but it's better than nothing.
[00:31:28] You know, having a third-party observe your team communication. So we'll often get invited into weekly team meetings just to be a fly on the wall. And then we can give feedback to the leader afterwards and say, here's what we think is going on here. So a third party can be a little bit more objective.
[00:31:41] So yeah, I mean, there's a number of ways to evaluate it, but more often than not, you know, it, you don't have to necessarily know how bad it is. You just need to always be getting better at communicating. Just be working on it all the time.
[00:31:55] I think some of the other things that we want to talk about are probably different communication styles and through the DISC graph. So, you know, D's, I's S’s and C’s and how you communicate based on your style. And then I think conflict is probably another thing. So should we expect if a team has healthy communication that there's never going to be conflict?
[00:32:16] Or is conflict a sign of bad communication? And I guess it depends a little bit on how you define conflict, but conflicts simply just two people disagreeing. But I think when you notice it in your body, right, when there's a pit in your stomach about the conflict, that's where you really want to press into that.
[00:32:32] Don't, don't leave it alone. Don't ignore it. Kind of go, okay, I've got this discomfort. What is this? Conflict, you mentioned the vulnerability of having two people face to face in a live conversation. And it is vulnerable. And I think some of the reason that is vulnerable is because people do disagree with one another and they're not sharing it.
[00:32:52] So you just want to be really good at pressing into conflict. There's a skill around learning how to say hard things to somebody. And it's something that it just has to happen on a team. Actually, you really, you don't actually want to be on a team where there's no conflict, it's boring.
[00:33:10] Lauren Marie: And it's not very innovative. To do really great things, you have to have conflict.
[00:33:13] Loren: right? It's like the diamond that's getting, you know, formed from millions of years…
[00:33:20] Lauren Marie: We’re doing great things here. We have so much conflict.
[00:33:24] Loren: Yeah. If only we had examples of innovation coming out of every one of our conflicts, wouldn't that be nice. Look, we're doing this a whole new way. That was so creative because of that.
[00:33:33] Lauren Marie: We have a podcast. It’s so innovative.
[00:33:37] Loren: So, so I, when I think. What to do when there is conflict, we want people to not run away from it. Don't ignore it. Learn how to resolve it with one another, create the kind of environment where, when someone says something you disagree with, they're not getting shouted at, by you, the leader on the team or anyone else on their team, any shouting or yelling is not an okay way to respond.
[00:34:04] And it's not going to create the environment where people are open to sharing all kinds of ideas. Learn to like the drama. It's, you know, back to DISC. It's one of the things that we joke about, right, when you've got two high D people and they get into conflict, other styles on the team that are less naturally okay with conflict, will watch it and they'll think that the world is ending, right? Things are falling apart, but then the two high D’s will go to lunch together and sort of still be friends and people that aren't naturally into conflict, like that can feel really uncomfortable. So there is definitely a stylistic, aspect to this. To conflict.
[00:34:39] Would you, would you agree with this, high D's tend to be pretty okay with conflict? They move towards it. So low D’s don't I think high I and high S's tend not to move towards conflict. I don't know if you would be able to flesh that out a little bit more.
[00:34:55] Is it only high D’s that really naturally gravitate towards conflict and are okay with it? Or are there other rules of thumb that the listener to this podcast can take away on DISC and conflict?
[00:35:06] Lauren Marie: I think that high D’s feel the most comfortable in conflict. That is their kind of natural way they move in the world is that they don't mind a fight. They like it.
[00:35:16] Loren: Yeah. In fact, we talked about the antagonistic environment that creates the activity with a high D whereas an antagonistic environment decreases the level of activity. Right.
[00:35:27] Lauren Marie: I think the high D needs to tone it down with the conflict. So if you're a high D how are you inadvertently causing trouble you don't mean to be causing?
[00:35:39] Loren: I mean, recognizing it, I think, you know, the understanding piece is the first piece, right? Are we aware that we're doing that? You don't necessarily have to tone it down if the only other people in the meeting are other high D’s, but if you are socially aware enough and empathetic enough to understand that you've got lower D’s and other styles in the room, then that's when you want to potentially change it.
[00:36:03] Lauren Marie: I have eight emotions for each of the energies of the DISC graph that I think are pretty quick ways to know how to adapt towards others. So I'll share them right now.
The high D naturally shares frustration and anger. Why are we still here? I'm impatient about this. Shouldn't this already be done? So it's coming out as a conflict or as a, as a threat almost.
[00:36:28] Loren: And what's coming out is what's inside, right? So it's not like they're necessarily angry at you.
[00:36:36] Lauren Marie: We're not moving fast enough and that's their starting place.
Where the low D energy that they feel safe sharing that they naturally do is patience. It's fine. We have time. It's not a problem. Let's just do it tomorrow.
[00:36:47] Loren: Yeah. That's so good.
[00:36:49] Lauren Marie: Yeah. Why are you so worked up? Right, which is then aggravating to the higher D like, we have to get this done, right?
[00:36:56] Like why?
And then the high I, they share optimism.
It'll be okay. This is going to be great. We'll figure it out.
[00:37:05] Loren: The way you sound say that, it sounds similar to the low D but you're also kind of adding this optimistic, so it's not only patient and reserved. It's optimistic. So, but it's also fast-paced. So it's got that similarity with the high D that we're going to move quickly, but everything's going to be great. It’s inspiring. This is going to be a high D without a high I. It doesn't necessarily have the optimism component, but a lot of leaders that we see will share a high D and a high I, there'll be fast moving with tasks and angry and optimistic on the I.
[00:37:37] They're shaking up a lot. They're creating a lot of activity and antagonism in a very positive way. Right.
What's the low I?
[00:37:44] Lauren Marie: Skeptical, untrusting. So the opposite of that optimistic energy.
It's very... how do you think you're going to get that done?
[00:37:51] Loren: Yeah. So I think of the referee in the basketball game, or the judge, someone who's catching errors and they are energized by catching errors and problems.
[00:38:05] Lauren Marie: Right. The low I naturally doesn't have, the social lubrication needed to schmooze people. So they can come across at times like a Razor's edge.
[00:38:14] Loren: And they're, if they're really good at catching errors, they're not necessarily thinking about people as someone who's going to have their feelings hurt or might be sensitive to the fact that the error was made by them.
[00:38:25] There's going to be like, it's a fact, there's an error here. Just fix it. This is not about you. You didn't do anything wrong.
[00:38:31] Lauren Marie: And that high I wants to be a unicorn and then they're deflated and they’re magical, right?
[00:38:34] Loren: So the low I is just popping the high I's balloon all the time. Yeah.
[00:38:39] Lauren Marie: The high S is they're looking for security.
[00:38:43] The emotion that they share is actually non-emotion. They are a diplomatic, stoic, poker-faced. And they're the people in the room that you don't know what's going on under the surface. You think, you think it might not be anything, but there's actually raging emotion going on inside. Yeah.
[00:39:02] Loren: So that's really interesting. So when you say that the primary emotion of a high S is non-emotional, I always get confused by that. But what you're saying is because we're talking about behavior, right, and this is observable, we're not talking about emotions. They feel all the things and their outward appearance does not demonstrate the inward emotion.
[00:39:25] Lauren Marie: They get the feedback a lot, like, wow, you're so chill about this,
[00:39:28] Loren: right. They may not be chill. They may be displaying chill, but feeling rage.
[00:39:33] Lauren Marie: And then they get confused by that feedback.
[00:39:35] Loren: What do you mean? Interesting. Well, why would that be a self-aware high S though would be able to know that? No?
[00:39:41] Lauren Marie: I mean, it's not on purpose that we're being, we, I'm a high S, it's not on purpose that I'm being diplomatic. That's what feels safe to me.
[00:39:50] Loren: Showing your cards... Right. That's what we mean by natural style. This is how you show up when you're not trying to adapt, you show up as non-emotional.
[00:39:58] Lauren Marie: I'm an optimistic, non-emotional person.
[00:40:01] Lauren Marie: When you have high S's on the team, some people are like, what are you thinking? Give it to me. I want something from you.
[00:40:08] Loren: Show us something. So it can come across like aloof, maybe detached. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So these are high S descriptors and then the low S, the opposite of that is someone who wears their emotions on their sleeve?
[00:40:21] Lauren Marie: Yes, they're very quick. They're witty. It's out there. It's like a splash of fire almost. Because, they're not afraid to take risk.
[00:40:33] Loren: Oh, okay. Interesting. You've got the non-emotional high S and the low S emotion would be?
[00:40:39] Lauren Marie: All the emotions… Like it's just, you're wearing it on your sleeves, you get what you get with me kind of attitude.
[00:40:45] Face value. And it's just very accessible where that high S is a slow processor. Gosh, it takes them so long to get at what they think and feel about something, right. Or that low S is shared and onto the next thing, because they would rather be exploring and taking risk.
[00:41:03] Loren: Super fascinating. What's next?
[00:41:08] Lauren Marie: The C stands for compliance and the high C they really long to be correct. Hesitant is the emotion that they share, or even, even if they've thought about an idea for three years, they will communicate it with hesitancy and concern or worry.
[00:41:28] Loren: Which is interesting, right? Because they're probably the most right and accurate about that thing that they've been thinking about for three years, but they'll still, you're saying in their behavior of communicating something, they're extremely confident and they'll still communicate with trepidation and hesitance.
[00:41:45] Lauren Marie: Because if you can, if you think of someone who's trying to be precise, there is one way to be precise and they can see all the ways that they are not. It's very hard for a high C to feel confident.
[00:41:55] Loren: Oh interesting. So you're saying they're actually part of their fears because they actually, they know the truth, they know all the mistakes, they're kind of so much quite aware of their weaknesses and that's part of what's causing the fear and hesitation is they're like, I'm not perfect, but that same fear is driving them to be perfect, nearly perfect all the time.
[00:42:14] Lauren Marie: That low C, then who doesn't care about failure, and wants to think outside the box, they have this natural swagger and confidence about them.
[00:42:25] Loren: What happens when you tell a high C this is the way that is the best way to do it?
Then they do it that way.
And that's good news to them?
Yeah. It feels warm and comfortable to follow the rules and the instructions to a high C. Yes.
What about a low C?
[00:42:42] Lauren Marie: Uh, they want to light that on fire.
[00:42:44] Loren: What, the instructions?
[00:42:45] Lauren Marie: Yeah. Don't tell me what to do.
[00:42:47] Loren: So rules and procedures come to a low C and what, a low C responds with, resistance?
[00:42:54] Lauren Marie: Resistance. It's a very, I mean, I feel it in my body as, “Who are you?”
Are you a low C?
I'm a low C.
Who are you to tell me how to do that?
[00:43:05] Loren: And I, and I noticed this with you. We're married obviously, but I noticed this with you, even in things that are, you know, well, well-worn proven things.
[00:43:16] You will look at it with some level of doubt that they know better than you. Whoever wrote this instruction manual, couldn't possibly know more about how to use this appliance than I do, even though I'm opening the box for the first time.
[00:43:31] Lauren Marie: That is not a defiant stance, that's a, I don't want to read the detail stance. And the low C has a very hard time getting into the weeds on details.
[00:43:40] Loren: Okay. In our typical vernacular, we say someone's detail oriented or not detail oriented, a low C is not detailed oriented.
[00:43:48] Lauren Marie: No. A low C is a pioneer. They want to go out and explore and see the cutting edge, the growing edge maybe, what is out there for us to find?
[00:44:00] Loren: Interesting. So when I imagine a pioneer, I imagine homesteading days, the wild west, it's kind of like the pioneers were the people that go, we don't quite know where the boundaries are. Maybe we're surveyors ourselves. We're going to draw the boundaries.
[00:44:12] We're going to push past them. I'm figuring out nobody's been there before. And then the high C is somebody that's kind of like, oh, you mean, if I do this degree and then I do that degree, I'm thinking of like almost a doctor... show me the way. You give me the path, I will follow the path. And then at the end of the path I win the prize for following the path correctly.
[00:44:36] Lauren Marie: Right. I mean, a low C can be a doctor.
[00:44:40] Lauren Marie: You'd want them to be your army, war time, let's be creative in the ways that we can fix these problems.
[00:44:47] Loren: Like we’re experimenting with new ways of doing that...
[00:44:50] Lauren Marie: And you'd want your plastic face surgeon to be the highest C possible.
[00:44:55] I want you to be as precise as possible.
[00:44:57] Loren: We're scheduling this. We're not doing this in an emergency. Right. Interesting. So your DISC style is not necessarily dictating to you what the best career is for you. It's telling you how you would do that career, right? Yeah. Right. So bringing this back to communication, we started talking about DISC because each end of each of the continua has kind of a different communication style and a different emotion.
[00:45:21] And this relates to the understanding communication skill we're talking about for leaders. And it relates to the adapting skill because once I understand where I start and I understand where someone else starts, DISC is a universal language to be able to communicate with one another about those different starting places.
[00:45:42] And then it also gives me the framework to be able to adapt my style towards other people who I need to communicate with.
[00:45:49] Lauren Marie: If you take all of those words, for me, I am a patient, optimistic, diplomatic, confident person. That's what you'll see with me in a meeting. And if I'm, if I'm being critical, that's me adapting.
[00:46:03] Loren: Like criticizing?
[00:46:03] Lauren Marie: Right. If I'm, if I'm thinking objectively or saying, I don't know if that's gonna work, that's me adapting pretty significantly towards the person that I'm communicating with.
[00:46:14] Loren: Which is a really good point. So, I mean, what should a leader do if they see someone on their team doing that kind of work, that's a great opportunity for positive feedback. Right? So now I know, I've given you the DISC assessment, I know you're a high, I, I see you volunteering constructive criticism. I'm going to say, Hey Lauren Marie, can I give you some feedback?
That's not easy for you to do what you just did, the way that you just provided that constructive criticism to the whole team in order to make this whole project better. That was amazing. We really value you when you show up like that, your perspective is awesome. When you do that, it helps the team get better.
[00:46:52] Please do that again.
[00:46:53] Lauren Marie: Please. Always say stuff like that to me. Why don't, why don't you do that? Oh, maybe it's because you're an impatient, critical, emotional, worried person.
[00:47:02] Loren: I feel so vulnerable. I feel so exposed.
[00:47:06] Lauren Marie: I can cut that. Yeah. Then once you have those words about the people on your team, it really does help you understand how to adapt towards that person.
[00:47:18] Oh, I know I'm talking to Loren. I need to be quicker. Hmm. He's impatient. Right? Let's get to the point. Right.
[00:47:24] Loren: And, and there's one temptation that is. To discern or to call that a character flaw. So in another list, impatience is a character flaw. Patience is a virtue.
Oh well sure, Biblically, but just everybody would say patience is a virtue.
[00:47:43] Whether you're looking at a list of virtues from the Bible or any other traditional historical text, patience is a virtue. But when we're talking about communication style, we are not talking about morality. We're not talking about objective right and wrong.
[00:47:59] I think one thing that will get some managers tripped up is they will see their role in the development of their team is so high and pious that they will be like, I need to help this person be more patient. My feedback then isn't what I just did with you a second ago, where I'm saying, “Hey, that thing you just did, that was good.”
[00:48:19] Or that thing you just did could be improved. What I'm doing is I'm saying, “You have a character flaw, you are an impatient person. The best people are patient. You would be a better person. If you would be more patient.” And BEING feedback does not work. It has to be DOING feedback.
[00:48:42] Lauren Marie: Because actually, if you're going to look at you and me and our character, you are way more patient, biblically speaking, than I am.
[00:48:52] Even though I communicate with patience.
[00:48:53] Loren: Right? So it's very important to understand, if you're picturing an iceberg, the parts that are above the surface that you can see, and the parts that are beneath the surface. And emotions and motivation and all these other elements of us as human beings are below the surface, what's above is the behavior.
[00:49:13] And that's the thing that a manager and a leader and a boss can give feedback about is the stuff that they can see. It's not that you've got an attitude problem or a character problem,it's that you have a eye-contact problem. “Look at me when I'm talking to you.”
[00:49:28] Lauren Marie: Which is great feedback, right?
[00:49:30] And it's easy for some people to do eye contact, and it will be harder for other people to do eye contact based on behavioral styles. Now, can someone have trouble giving eye contact because of other reasons, like shame or trauma or other yes.
[00:49:48] Loren: Right. Beneath the surface stuff, the surface stuff.
[00:49:51] Absolutely. But it can also be just above the surface stuff.
[00:49:53] Loren: And potentially outside the purview of the workplace. Right. So when people start, you know, we'll get into a coaching conversation with a client and they'll start talking about trauma in their family of origin. And we're like, this is super important, let's go talk to a counselor about that. What we're doing, the scope of our conversation is your behavior and your performance at work. And it helps me to differentiate those things a little bit because they're not the same. When you make a mistake in your behavior at work, it doesn't mean you're a bad person.
[00:50:23] That's not the way that it works. I can give you feedback about your eye contact. I can give you feedback about how quickly you're talking or how slowly you're talking, or if you're too detail oriented or not detail oriented enough in your behavior without attacking you as an identity.
[00:50:40] Lauren Marie: This is a good conversation about communication. Is there anything else that you'd like to add before we wrap it up?
[00:50:45] Loren: Yeah, no, I think we more than covered it.
[00:50:48] Lauren Marie: In this episode of The Integrated Leader, we explored the fifth of the 8 Dimensions of a Healthy Team, Team Communication. Our goal was to define what we mean when we say it, talk about how you can measure it and what does your team lose without it?
[00:51:02] Loren: Thanks for joining us.
Lauren Marie: Thank you for joining us today. We are thrilled to have you here. It's important to remember that as with all learning, just having the information does not automatically lead to transformation. We can give you all of the analytics and methodologies, but team transformation will not happen without you incorporating new behaviors into your leadership practice.
Listening to a podcast without beginning to practice better management is a lot like learning about exercise without moving your body. Starting anything new will feel awkward and funny at times. This is normal and doesn't mean you should stop. Discomfort is a sign that it is working and that your brain is getting stronger. Stick with it.
Commit to trying our methods for eight weeks to six months and then observe and see what's next. See you next time on The Integrated Leader Podcast.