E45 Three Key Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills with Meredith Bell

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Have you ever thought about the impact communication has on the success of your business and your relationship with your team?

Communication is one of the single most valuable skills you can master. It’s vital for business, life, and building any kind of relationship effectively with someone else.

Communication is as much about the way we speak with someone as it is about the way we listen to them and absorb information. 

Small improvements to communication can have major impacts on your results.  

On this week's episode of the Lean Out Your Business podcast I am thrilled to be joined by Meredith Bell, the Co-Founder and President of Performance Support Systems. She has developed a variety of tools and techniques to help leaders and team members improve their performance and communication skills for long-term success.

Meredith also shares an incredible story about how she tapped into her purpose and how she uses it in everything she does in business and life.

In this episode, we dive into:

  • Why you should always start with purpose 
  • The one question that could change the rest of your life 
  • Which skill is the most fundamental skill of all skills you can master
  • What it truly means to be a good listener and listen well 
  • How to give and receive feedback, some of the most important dos and don’ts of the process


Giving and Getting Feedback is an Important Aspect of Communication

Do you enjoy getting feedback? How about giving someone else feedback?

For the vast majority of people, the idea of having to confront someone with something they did wrong might make you break out into a cold sweat. Likewise, when you know you are about to get feedback the sense of dread can send you spiraling into defensive mode making it nearly impossible to even take the good feedback well.

As business owners with any size team over the course of their career will need to give feedback on projects, work, and workplace environment. Most people don’t enjoy this process despite it being one of the most crucial components of developing those around you into being their best selves and supporting your company vision. 

The good news is that you can shift your mindset around both giving and receiving feedback.

The Sandwich Style Of Feedback

When it comes to giving positive feedback the way you communicate is important and that starts with giving positive feedback in the first place. Every human being no matter how successful they are needs to know they matter. And when you learn to give this feedback well to those on your team you will build a stronger team. Giving positive feedback at the same time as giving a more critical piece of feedback is even more crucial to keep morale high and to keep them from becoming too defensive and no longer hearing what you need to talk to them about.

The most practical method to keep communication open and have the interaction be as positive on both sides as possible is commonly referred to as the sandwich method.

This is when you bring up something positive to begin the conversation, highlight something you appreciate that the person you are talking to has done recently. Then once you have established you do appreciate them, then you can lead into what might potentially be lacking in terms of if they missed a deadline, if their performance was below usual expectations or if a situation was handled poorly. When addressing these concerns stick to the facts and avoid judgmental language or negative accusations.

This gives you a chance to let them know what happened and to give them the ability to respond. You should ask follow up questions about if they misunderstood something if they were having problems outside of work that might be influencing their usually on-point performance, giving them a chance to explain themselves openly you will be able to understand where they were coming from and to allow you together to come together to look forward and agree on what the standards should be. It will also allow them to ask for help and more guidance if that was something they felt they were missing in order to achieve their preformation expectations. Once you have both discussed the problem to completion once again finish the sandwich with more appreciation and value statements. Continue to offer them the support that you do intend to help them improve and give them the opportunity to step up and reach the goals you have discussed and planned out together.

Leading with appreciation, then opening discussing the concerns, followed by more value, and offering support will take a lot of pressure off needing to give feedback. Not everyone or everything will be always perfect, and when you reaffirm to people that you have faith they can improve and give them the support and space in order to do so they will be more receptive and feel more confident in their ability to do so.

Another Valuable Technique is Called FAR

When you are implementing new communication skills it’s important to remember things will not be perfect overnight. You will have communication mishaps, not give balanced feedback, use the wrong words, or even hurt someone on accident.

You may find yourself in situations where you don’t even say anything at all and find yourself later imagining all the things you could have said and then beating yourself up. This happens to all of us. We think about the things we could have, should have, would have said if we had just thought it through some more and had some time.

This is a natural part of the process of developing a brand-new skill of being more highly effective in communication.

The technique best used in this practice has the acronym FAR which stands for Focus, Action and Reflection.

Focus: This is the one thing that you want to improve on at a time in communication. This could be listening more, giving better feedback, taking feedback better, understanding more, or whatever you are wanting to be better at.

Action: Looking for opportunities to put your current focus of communication into action. This can happen in any type of your current relationships inside and outside of business.

Reflection: Looking back at the action you took, ask yourself questions about how it went. How you are feeling about it, how did the interaction go, and how you can improve upon them in the future.

When you look at various interactions in this manner you can see what you did well, poorly and how you can consistently be improving. Give yourself grace in these times as you are learning and growing and having setbacks is a natural part of the process. Practicing these skills as often as possible in a full variety of situations will allow you to try new things, learn and change for the better.


Connect with Meredith:

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The Lean Out Your Business Podcast is a show dedicated to helping entrepreneurs accelerate business growth and simplify success.

Hosted by Crista Grasso who has been helping businesses for more than 2 decades to lean out by optimizing what's working and eliminating anything not adding value. 

If you are ready for more time back in your day and more profit in your business, while doing business differently and growing and scaling on YOUR terms, tune in to the podcast.


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