Brent Reid may have alreadytold you his message, but he’s going to give it to you again.As president and CEO of TheWinter Construction Co., Reidconstantly reinforces his messages and says it’s impossible toovercommunicate, no matterwhat your message or issue.
In fact, he says that he can’tpossibly communicate enough,but he continues to try throughlarge and small meetings, hiscompany’s Web site andnewsletters. However, when you get down to more intimateconversations with just a fewpeople, or even one on one,sometimes the best communication occurs when you don’teven open your mouth.
Listening is a crucial part ofthe communication process and one that a lot of peopleforget about in the rush to getanswers, get ideas and getmoving and it is how Reidworks to build a strong culture and foster trust with his450 employees.
Smart Business spoke withReid about why God gave ustwo ears and one mouth andwhy having an open-door policy isn’t always a good idea.
Communicate effectively. Communicating and listening is a part of that is agreat tool to have, not only in a business setting but in yourpersonal life. Not that I’m anything close to a marriage counselor, but my guess is thatmost marriages work well ordon’t work well depending thelevel of communication.
Good leaders have got to begood communicators. I definecommunication as more thangetting up and making a speech it’s really listening well andunderstanding what people aresaying. That’s why God gave ustwo ears and one mouth.
People look like they’re listening, but they’re really not.They’re sitting there thinkingabout what they’re going to sayin response to whatever someone’s saying to them. It’s uncanny you can sit and watchthis play out in a group setting.
Person A talks to Person B,and Person B looks like he’slistening, but he’s really not,and when he starts to talk, it’sobvious he didn’t even hearwhat Person A just gotthrough saying.
It’s important when you’relistening to focus on what theperson’s saying and truly listenand be in the moment withthem. If you’re not listening,it’s a one-way communication.If you have two people involved in the communication,it’s a two-way, dual process. Soif you’re not listening, you’rejust talking and, by definition,not communicating.
Focus on listening. People thatare very smart have a hardtime listening because theymay be three or four stepsahead in the conversation,thinking about whatever it isthey want to say. They have a hard time staying in themoment and listening to theconversation and having anormal conversation.
You just have to focus on itand don’t be distracted. It’s simple things. Look people in theeye. If you’re in the office and ifyou have a laptop computer,you push the screen down you turn your desktop off. Youdon’t take phone calls in themiddle of a conversation. Youdon’t let your cell phone ring.It’s simple, stupid stuff like that.
Any distractions that you canminimize when you’re listening to someone, the better. Itwill allow you to listen better,and it shows the other personthat you are focused on them,that you’re purposely trying tolisten to what they have to say,and you’re not distracted.
Summarize the message. I don’tknow how many times I’vehad conversations with people, and you specifically talkabout issues, and you jumparound, and you leave the conversation and think to yourself, ‘What did we just decidewe’re going to do?’ or they’rethinking the same thing.
What I try to do at the end ofthe conversation is go backand summarize the key thingswe just talked about. Therewere probably three or fourthings that were discussed thatare follow-ups or key points tothe dialogue that you reaffirm.That’s a habit I try to developso we’re both clear [that] thisis what we discussed.
If something’s really important, you can always confirm it in a written communication,but you don’t have to do thatevery time you have a conversation with someone.
It avoids that miscommunication of walking away and thinking to yourself, ‘OK, we just hada great conversation, but I don’tknow what the hell we agreedon.’ People do that all the time.
Don’t multitask during a conversation. Sometimes, the open-door policy is not necessarilythe most efficient way to getthings done. Sometimes, Idon’t have a totally open-doorpolicy for that reason.
If I have to get things done, I’lljust say, ‘Unless this is an emergency, come back in an hourwhen I’m done with whatever itis I’m in the middle of, and let’sdeal with it then, so I can really focus on what your issue is.’
Try not to multitask. I’veread some articles that haveindicated that people whomultitask are not as efficientas people who don’t. There’ssome accuracy on that. When Ireally get going, and I don’tfocus on one thing, I may getfive things done in the sameamount of time, but they’relike 80 percent complete.
Then I have to go back laterand finish them because I wasdoing so many things at oncethat I didn’t get it 100 percent.
If I take the time to get 100 percent of that one thing done andput it to bed and go to the nextthing, I find that my work output is higher, better, more accurate, and it’s effectively moreefficient to do it that way.
HOW TO REACH: The Winter Construction Co., (404) 588-3300 or www.wintercompanies.com