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Learning These 10 Tricks Can Help You Overcome Frustration in Communication

Learning These 10 Tricks Can Help You Overcome Frustration in Communication

Have you ever found yourself reliving conversations and constantly repeating yourself? It may be while trying to convey a message to your children or significant other. You may be having trouble getting your boss or colleagues to see things from your perspective, or not getting through to a friend or loved one about an important issue. Do you often feel like you are simply talking into a vacuum or speaking a language nobody else understands? We’ve all been there and it can be very frustrating.

The best communicators treat communication as a dialogue instead of a monologue

The best communicators use various techniques that have one aspect in common, they simply don’t treat communication as a monologue, whereby they are the only ones participating.[1] Good communication skills rely on having a dialogue. It is a mutual exchange that involves both parties equally. Strong communication skills are also a combination of both verbal and non-verbal signals that work together to ensure ideas are being delivered and received efficiently.

Developing good communication skills takes practice and honesty. It relies on being open and transparent, emotionally mature and a willingness to be wrong and to learn.

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Here are 10 things to think about if you want to improve your communication skills:

Clear your assumptions and make every communication a new one

Ask yourself how well you know the person you are communicating with and how familiar they are with you. Sometimes, the people you know best are the ones you communicate the worst with because of the aforementioned illusion of insight. Put simply, you assume that you know each other well enough to understand each other easily, when this is not necessarily the case. Come at the communication from a place of newness every time. In your own mind, pretend the person is completely oblivious to your life experience and point of view, your character and your personality. Assuming you are both starting at the same place of unawareness and inexperience, will ensure you are both on equal footing and the communication will begin from a place of innovation and originality.

Give time and attention to important conversations

Effective communication takes time. Sometimes the message needs to be delivered on numerous occasions and you need to be willing and patient enough to harness the power of repetition. Depending on the importance of the communication, you may need to dedicate a set amount of time to committing to that conversation. For example, don’t talk to your boss about that pay rise as you pass them in the hallway or bump into them at the coffee shop. Schedule a meeting and make sure you have their full attention without distraction and time limits. On any occasion when you need to deliver a message of importance, give it the time and attention it deserves.

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A good eye contact can save you thousands of words

It’s amazing how much information and emotion we can convey simply by looking into someone’s eyes. Don’t be creepy and stare or forget to blink, but make sure you connect with the other person intimately and regularly during a conversation. This is particularly important when communicating with children, who extract so much reassurance and comfort from an intimate act such as eye contact. Making someone feel as though you hold them in high regard, or at least care enough about them to connect in this way, will clear a path for delivery of a message and is one of the communication skills that is most often over looked.

Mirror the body language of the person you speak to

It is useful to mirror the body language and stature of the person you are speaking to. Bring yourself down to the level of a child, so they don’t feel like they are being towered over. Similarly sit down or stand tall to equalize yourself with the adult you are speaking with. Angel your body towards the person you are communicating with if you are having an intimate conversation, or alternatively, give the other person space if the situation requires it. If you gesticulate with your hands, be aware of the effect this is having on the other person and be conscious of your reactions to what they are saying. Are you clenching your fists, gritting your teeth, fidgeting or flinching? You don’t necessarily have to change or correct any of your responses, but being aware of them is one of the communication skills that can work to your advantage.

Sometimes listening is more powerful than speaking

Sometimes the best form of communication is to say nothing at all and to merely listen. Validating what the other person is saying by giving them the space to say it is half the journey. It fulfills the notion that communication is a two way street and allows the other person to deliver their message with confidence. What you do with that information is also important. Truly hearing what the other person is saying, not just listening to the words and waiting for your turn to speak, will equip you with information that will only enhance your own message.

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Aim to express your thoughts to the best instead of being understood

Ask yourself what the point of the exchange actually is. Sometimes we have an end goal in mind and are bitterly disappointed when the result is different. It is ideal to have at least some idea of what you want to convey, but having limited expectations about how that message is received will take the pressure away from getting your way at all costs. This is difficult for most people. Everybody wants to be understood. However, sometimes simply aiming to articulate yourself and being satisfied that you have done that to the best of your ability is enough to give you the strength and confidence to do this effectively. Expecting the other person to see things exactly the way you do, will only set you up for disappointment and frustration is the destroyer of effective communication.

It’s not always about yourself, think about the needs and wants of others

This is closely tied to expectation. It is useful to have a purpose to your communication. What are you trying to achieve? Is it that you want to get something off your chest or do you think what you have to say will change things for the better for both parties? If your intentions are purely selfish, this will come across immediately. Do take responsibility for your feelings by using “I” statements, but don’t let it be all about yourself. Considering the needs and wants of the other party will ensure a mutually beneficial exchange and is more likely to ensure that your message is received well.

Always be true to your emotions, including the negative ones

Connecting with another person on an emotional level is important and it doesn’t always have to be comfortable or feel good. Sometimes, difficult conversations need to delve into negative emotions for them to be successful.[2] Authenticity is messy and humans experience a wide range of emotions on their journey towards truth. We need to become familiar with the ugly side of being human, including acknowledging anger, fear, sadness, envy, disappointment and shame. Getting in touch with these feelings and allowing ourselves to articulate them will also help us to recognize them in others and will ensure well rounded communication. It is not always going to be pleasant, but pretending that it should be omits a whole range of communication skills that allow messages to be delivered accurately and completely.

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Communication doesn’t end when you stop speaking

Communication shouldn’t end when everyone stops talking. We should develop the resilience and the emotional maturity to be able to go away and critically assess what has taken place. Self-reflection and personal examination of the conversations we have, particularly the significant ones will not only expand our understanding, but help us to eloquently express ourselves in the future. We learn from our exchanges. Not only from our own actions that can help us think about how to do things better next time, but also from the behavior and communication skills of others. When the words of someone stick with you and resurface in your mind after the event, consider how that person delivered the message to you and why it worked and emulate them.

Learn from every valuable interaction

Finally, the key to effective communication is a level of surrender, whereby once the exchange has taken place, you should be able to be satisfied that both parties have done their best to convey their message and the interaction is now over. All exchanges are valuable and the aim should be to extract the benefits and learn from the failures. This will ensure progress and the constant improvement of your communication skills.

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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

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