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Importance of Keeping the Communication Lines Open

Importance of Keeping the Communication Lines Open

Communication has always played a very important role in the way we do business. A steady flow of communication is what powers the stock market, improves upon technology and inventions, helps companies grow, and keeps people connected with one another and with the businesses they work with or choose to purchase goods and services from.

Today’s advanced technology has brought communication to the forefront of the world’s societies like never before, enabling people halfway around the world to communicate with thousands of others within mere seconds. Through social media platforms, VOIP systems, online web conference apps, and other advanced and intuitive communication tools, communication lines can stay open on a consistent basis, ensuring that the flow of information never stops.

So why is it so important that the lines of communication stay open?

As technology changed the way we communicate, so too did our demands for better, faster, easier ways to communicate. We are always striving to improve upon old technologies and develop new ones so as to keep up with those demands, and meet new challenges in the future.

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Today’s consumers rely upon fast, easy-to-access information—they have communicated their needs to businesses, and smart, savvy companies have responded by ensuring that the consumers can easily access information through a variety of means, and most importantly, that someone is ready and able to communicate with the consumer in order to handle any issues and complaints, or just to make the customer feel more connected to the business, subsequently improving the consumer experience.

Communication in the office and beyond

While it is a critical factor to be able to communicate with your customers and clients in a professional manner, it is no less important that interoffice communication is also efficient and open at all times. This is especially true in businesses and industries where many employees are not in one central location yet rely upon information from one another to complete tasks and projects.

Office phone systems are simply not a reliable means of ensuring consistent communication, because if someone is not in the office, then you have to wait until they return, check their voicemail, and find the time to call you back amidst all the other messages they received likewise with email. However, various  web conferencing apps like Cisco WebEx, Uberconference, Go to Meeting  remedy these problems by ensuring that you can contact anyone, anywhere, anytime, so long as they have their laptop or mobile device.

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More than just online communication

Web conference apps offer users more than just a means to communicate online. They can be used to hold seminars, train staff, troubleshoot with clients, and collaborate with team members in various locations. Many web conference apps also have advanced features that further help to improve productivity and efficiency in the workplace, as well as improve marketing efforts, delivering a strong ROI.

Many businesses have already realized the importance of being able to communicate openly and efficiently, and have taken advantage of easy to use yet highly advanced apps that allow managers, business owners, employees, team leaders, clients and customers to easily communicate with one another more openly, more effectively, and more reliably.

It’s cost-effective too

Not only does improving communication, improve the way your company does business, it is also more cost-effective than using other means of communication, such as the traditional business phone system. Additionally, it also eliminates the need for traveling to other locations to attend meetings, wasting time trying to get multiple parties together for a meeting, losing time while waiting for callbacks, and even on material costs for printing and sending documents, since many web conference apps allow you to easily share documents with others.

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Time saved is also money saved, and as productivity improves, it also helps your teams complete tasks on time and on budget. Time is money, and the key to saving both is open and efficient communication.

When you factor in all the different advantages as well as the cost-savings that can be garnered by using new tools of communication and collaboration, it seems a no-brainer. At the very least, it is an efficient means of staying competitive, because you can be assured that other companies will soon be investigating the advantages and benefits of web conference apps, if they aren’t already.

Have you already tried using web conference apps? Which ones have you tried and why? Share your experiences and insight with others. If you haven’t already tried one, take some time to do some research on the various apps that are available, so that you can see firsthand what additional features are available. Then you’ll be able to make an informed decision and choose the app that best suits your needs and company goals.

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Featured photo credit: Creative Company Conference 2011 via Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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