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Collaborate like the Jedi Council

Collaborate like the Jedi Council

Collaboration is hard work. Clearly communicating what you want to accomplish requires time, energy, and planning; unless, of course, you’re a Jedi. For a Jedi, a simple wave of the hand and the weak of mind do exactly as you request.

For everyone else, millions of dollars of productivity are lost each year because of failures of communication. Whether it’s employees being terminated because a manager doesn’t believe that they are performing well enough or employees running for the door because they don’t believe in their manager. The cost is astounding and a massive percentage of it could be avoided through better communication and collaboration.

Is being a Jedi really the easiest management job in the world? Did Obi-Wan simply envision the outcome and the path to achieve it and Anakin just knew what he intended? Learning to collaborate like Masters of the Jedi Council such as Yoda and Mace Windu takes time; here are some keys to collaboration we can learn from the Jedi:

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1. It takes time

“Patience you must have my young Padawan.” – Master Yoda

You can’t expect a Padawan to be a Jedi Master in a month. The Jedi Order has long required a lengthy apprenticeship, typically over a decade. Imagine how aligned your thinking would be if you and your mentor, apprentice, or boss spent 10 weeks doing every job together, let alone ten years!

Early on in the Padawan and Master relationship the Master Jedi leads and the Padawan follows, no questions asked. The expectation is clear that this is how things will remain for some time. This level of delegation requires strong leadership from the Master and extremely clear direction and relentless follow up. During the early days of these relationships they are less collaborative, however it builds the basis of trust and is a foundational transfer of knowledge.

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Be patient with your team members, especially when they’re new. Ask yourself the following questions: “Have I clearly set expectations?”, “Does Anakin (or insert Padawan or associate’s name) know how I like to communicate?”, and “Have I clearly conveyed the goal and why it’s important?”.

2. Focus on the “Why” before the “How”

“It’s against my programming to impersonate a deity.” – C-3PO

In Empire Strikes Back, while Luke Skywalker is trapped in the ice plains of Hoth he is visited by the ghost of his early mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi and told to travel to Dagobah to train under his old master Yoda. When Luke arrives on Dagobah, Yoda’s focus is on helping young Skywalker understand the importance of controlling the Force and not on how use a light saber. Yoda is constantly seeking to get Luke to understand the “why” rather than the “how” of controlling the Force.

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Before embarking on your next project, take the time to align everyone’s understanding of what you are working towards. Strive to show how each part is essential to the overall success and why this project is important to the company and each of the team member’s individually. Once C-3PO understood the “why” behind impersonating a god in front of the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, he easily executed the technical skills necessary to achieve the “how”.

3. Write it down

“If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.” – Jocasta Nu

Despite the strength of the Force even the Jedi have a centralized repository of information. Located on Coruscant in the Jedi Temple are the Jedi Archives, a place where any Jedi can seek out the laws and knowledge of the Order, and the universe.

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Just as the Jedi need a central place to store information so does your team. Collaboration requires it. Whether your team works from a shared Google Doc, a white board, or a project management software (be it Kanbanchi, Asana, Basecamp or anything other – you name it) the likelihood of a team collaborating effectively if they are in the dark is low. A centralized information site allows parties to see progress (a key element of motivation) who is responsible for what task, and therefore where to direct questions, in addition to what to expect down the road.

Even with the power of the Force to aid them, the Jedi have to work to collaborate effectively. By being patient, taking the time to clearly communicate your needs, explaining why the team is doing what they’re doing, and then creating a forum to share information, and track progress you will be well on your way to collaborating like the Jedi Council. May the Force be with you.

Featured photo credit: The Jedi Council near the end of the Clone Wars via starwars.wikia.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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