Ineffective communication causes apathy; but worse yet can cause BIG problems. I learned this lesson once again recently. I ordered a product to be delivered on the morning of my wife’s birthday. I paid extra for a morning delivery. In fact, this company GUARANTEES morning delivery if you pay for it. Well, much to my surprise, my wife came home empty handed. The package NEVER arrived. I called the company and they told me, “Well…our bad.” The company never tried to make amends. Since the package never arrived, it made me look like a bad husband. Ineffective communication was apparent. The company was not proactive in dealing with the problem.. I never received a message that the product would not be delivered on time. I finally received a correspondence some 6 hours after I called in the early afternoon. In my dealings with this company both over the phone and email, they did not seem to care that my wife’s birthday package was not delivered. I did not feel like I was heard. I felt a lack of empathy. I sensed apathy.
This situation made me think. When do leaders make others feel unheard? What are some of the variables where ineffective communication causes apathy? How can leaders avoid this trap?
Here are a couple of suggestions.
- Active listening. Sit down with a person. Step away from your PC, put your cell phone down and provide all your attention to the person. Listen not only to the words but watch their body language. If you are on the phone, validate what the person is saying. Ask–what can I do to help?
- Echo-back. After the person finishes talking, summarize what you heard. Describe the emotion that he/she is feeling/experiencing.
These are simple things that leaders can do. Don’t brush others off. Don’t marginalize their feelings. Needless to say, the company that I ordered from will NEVER get another order from me. They did not seem to care that my wife’s birthday gift was not delivered. Apathy was evident in their attitude. As a leader, don’t let apathy and arrogance seep into your leadership.
Ted Gorski is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through the International Coach Federation. He works with new/emerging leaders both internationally and domestically. He is host of “The Leadership Edge” TV show which is aired on Bedford Community TV and YouTube. He is author of the book, “Trailblazing Leadership”. Ted also conducts workshops and personal assessments to “Unlock the Leader in You”.