Research shows interpersonal work relationships affect our health, optimism and efficiency. As everyone knows, “communication is the key to a good relationship.” The average manager spends 80 percent of his or her work time communicating in written or verbal form. How can we ensure that our communications are positive and supportive?
David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron, authors of Developing Management Skills, explain that supportive communication starts with being descriptive and not falling into the common trap of being evaluative. Keys to the communication process involve being specific, relaying consequences and focusing mostly on the solution. In a nutshell, this fairly common conversation: “Nancy, we need you to learn to multi-task better. People have been complaining about their hold times when they reach your extension.” Should sound more like this: “Nancy, a top level donor called me yesterday after you placed him on hold for 15 minutes.” Placing callers on hold for longer than three minutes will likely result in us losing the donation, adoption, or worse, the patron as a whole.
I suggest that you update a caller every two minutes, even if you’re working on the caller’s issue or handling another line. Otherwise, offer to call the person back. With more ways to communicate than ever before, knowing how to communicate has never been more important. Developing good interpersonal skills paves the road to success, no matter your level in the organization you serve.