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No Matter What You Say, the First Thing People Pay Attention to Is Only How You Say It

No Matter What You Say, the First Thing People Pay Attention to Is Only How You Say It

Regardless of the communication methods that we use in the modern age, we have a tendency to focus heavily on the words that we use to interact with others.

While words are a seminal part of engaging others, however, successful interpersonal communication relies on a number of additional factors such as body language, facial expressions and the overall context that relates to each message.

If you believe that the content of your message is more important than its delivery, you are misunderstanding interpersonal communication.

In this article, we are going to delve deeper into the numerous types of interpersonal communication that exist, so that you can determine which best suits your personality and outlook as an individual.

We will also be providing you with actionable items that you can follow right away, many of which can be used to influence your interpersonal communications going forward.

There are three main types of interpersonal communication.

The following types of interpersonal communication are what most of us use every day, but we probably aren’t very aware of each of their impact on our everyday interactions.

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1. Verbal Communication: Speaking and Listening

The main and most evolved type of interpersonal communication is verbal, as this combines numerous elements such as message, tone and in some instances nonverbal cues (more on this below).

Verbal communication includes both speaking and listening, both of which contribute towards successful and progressive communications.

We can also communicate verbally across a range of channels, most typically in-person or over the phone.[1] In the digital age, we can also converse through video messaging resources like Facebook and various video messaging apps.

2. Written Communication: Writing and Texting

In many ways, written communication offers a safe haven for those who struggle to express themselves or interact openly with others. While it is possible to communicate both formally or informally in writing, this medium places a stronger emphasis on the message in question and eliminates factors such as tone and body language.

Once again, however, modern technology has created more spontaneous and accessible channels for written communication. From SMS messaging to Twitter microblogs, written communication has gradually become increasingly more diverse and real-time in its delivery.

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3. Nonverbal Communication: Gestures and Body Languages

We have already touched on nonverbal communication, which can occur whenever we interact with others in person (or through video chat). This can manifest itself in a number of different ways during real-time communication, including facial expressions, body language and related hand gestures.

This type of communication is the most difficult to interpret, as it is completely subjective and hard to observe while participating in a verbal conversation. It is also the most fascinating type of interpersonal communication, however, and one that can add context (and in some instances contradict) the words that we use.

Adapt these universal tips to improve your day-to-day communication.

With these points in mind, it is easy to understand the diverse nature of interpersonal communication. Fortunately, there are a number of actionable and universal tips that enable you to improve your interpersonal skills, including the following:

Facts are not the be-all and end-all.

While facts are a central part of any conversation, particularly in the workplace, those with superior interpersonal skills understand that they are not the only consideration. After all, you can you can spend as much time as you like researching the content and the accuracy of your facts, but this means little if you do not deliver them in a convincing and engaging manner that invokes feeling.[2]

The recent election in the U.S. provided a relevant case in point, as while Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton failed to resonate with voters despite her considered approach to interpersonal communication, her rival Donald Trump flourished amid a number of inaccurate claims and fabrications.

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This has much to do with Trump’s emotive and colloquial delivery, which appealed to many voters’s fears, insecurities and partisan biases.

There is a difference between tactile and sugar coating your message.

As anyone who has ever received bad news can testify, there is nothing worse than instances when somebody sugar coats their message. After all, on occasions where individuals are laid off from work or given bad new by doctors, those delivering the message tend to establish the tone with their nonverbal communication long before they begin to talk.

While it is important to deliver any bad news tactfully, you also have a duty to be direct and emphasize the full gravity of your message for the benefit of the listener. This avoids confusion and creates a genuine sense of understanding, while it also ensures that the listener does not feel patronized or as though you are being insincere.

Finally, consider the message, context, noise, feedback and channel when communicating with others.

While all communications start with an underlying message and the words to deliver this, you need to ensure that you consider the other elements that contribute to progressive, interpersonal communication.[3]

The first consideration outside of your message is context, particularly in terms of the the situation that you choose to communicate. This can influence how a particular message is perceived, as especially when there is a conflict between the tone of the communication (which may be formal) and the location in which it takes place (which may be informal).

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Noise and feedback are also key considerations, and you must distinguish between the two when communicating with others. Noise has a special meaning in communication theory, as it relates to anything that can distract listeners or distort the message that is being delivered. This includes complicated language, tone and conflicting body language, and it is important to minimise noise at all times.

Conversely, feedback relates to the messages that are imparted by the listener at different times, and it is crucial that you listen to and follow these as closely as possible. This allows you to determine whether or not your message has been received accurately, and if not it also delvers prompts which help you to adapt your communication style or repeat key pieces of content that may have been missed.

We have the channel that you use to deliver a particular message, as this also has a direct influence on how it is perceived. We have already touched on this when appraising alternative types of interpersonal communication, with written and verbal techniques all leveraging alternative platforms.

Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

[1] Important India: Types of Interpersonal Communication
[2] Soft Skills – Ask a Wharton MBA: What is Interpersonal Communication – Definition and 3 Myths
[3] Skills You Need: What is Interpersonal Communication?

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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