Effective Communication Begins with Self-Awareness

Building wood blocks on table.

Emotions come into play at work through the way that we speak, process information, and the perceived support from coworkers and leaders.

The quality of those connections and level of support – high or low – affect the quality of interpersonal behaviors on the job.

Working remotely, requires more self-awareness to be clear in our communications; it means that we need to be more human, less transactional.

If the only communications with your people are to cover a checklist, or are punitive and insulting when mistakes are made, it triggers passive actions in employees.

To avoid the anxiety, people assess the level of threat and then act in ways to reduce that threat. These include fear of speaking up, dissociation, or performing to the bare minimum to avoid triggering a boss’s anger. It weakens any development of trust.

Avoidance is the opposite of engagement. Creative thinking is blocked by a brain under stress. Also, if employees are afraid to speak up, they will not – even when there is a difficult (or an unethical) situation – to stay out of the line of fire.

Additionally, if the employee is only responding to micromanaging, they will come to you for every choice and decision. This requires more of your effort and involvement. It reduces that person’s ability to problem-solve and make good decisions independently. It shuts down initiative, sucks up your valuable time, and is demotivating.

Learning to express yourself in a more humane and empathetic way allows team members to feel safe in coming to you. This provides an opportunity for an employee to learn, ask questions, and adjust outputs before too deeply entrenched in a project. It creates accessibility and improves two-way communication. Awareness of your reactions and responses creates a positive impact on the engagement of the whole team.