Effective Communication & Collaborative Problem Solving

Bridgett Lindsey is an accomplished business and people leader with an undeniable sense of purpose for guiding organizations through change and building infrastructures that can scale across a diversified workforce. She has successfully championed culture change in both start-up and large matrixed organizations by providing intellectual and strategic insight to help leaders think differently. Her specialty is in leading teams through significant organizational restructures, culture shifts, and towards evolving, yet ambitious goals. Bridgett is nimble at unlocking the best of a brand, company, and its people by creating initiatives that amplify culture and increase engagement internally and externally. Through this lens she has been able to develop and execute organization-wide management and people training programs with an emphasis on leadership, effective communication, culture, conflict resolution and DEI. The hallmark of Bridgett’s legacy is ensuring that these systemic, positive organizational changes last long after her tenure. In the following discussion, she shares how to communicate effectively and collaboratively solve problems.

What should we take into account as we endeavor to become better communicators?

George Bernard Shaw once said, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." If you think about that for a second, we're communicating all the time. With technology, it seems like we're never not communicating. There's a principle fundamental to the proponents of neuro-linguistic programming: we cannot not communicate. This means whether we're consciously aware of it or not, we humans are almost always communicating.

We communicate in multiple ways and on various levels: through our tone, voice, facial expressions, posture, body language, and even through our silence. Silence is a strong communicator. Those who have either dished out or received the silent treatment can attest to that. When we speak to others we want to think about what we're conveying that goes beyond mere words. This is especially true when we add text messages and emails into the mix - a lot of context gets lost in translation.

How can we be more effective communicators?

Here are some questions to consider to communicate more effectively: What am I saying? Is my point getting across? Is someone actually hearing what I'm saying? Am I taking away what I'm supposed to be from the conversation?

You also want to think about your audience by considering the parties involved and their communication skills. You may have to adjust based on how they receive information, their attitudes, their knowledge base, and their backgrounds. All of these things affect the way somebody either delivers or interprets a message.

Your channel for sharing the information can also make or break the effectiveness of your message. Some conversation topics are best left to in-person to avoid the lost in translation moment more likely to occur when sharing via text or email.

What are everyday issues that impede our messages from getting across?

Any distraction that affects the reception of the message, impedes our effectiveness. Multitasking is a big one because it impacts how much of the message we receive. The varying information and unrelated facts get in the way of what's being communicated.

The other thing that I always like to talk about is building a culture of trust. As leaders, we can build that culture by being empathic, honest, and credible. Having integrity in our messaging and being transparent is incredibly important. Other vital traits are relatability, genuineness and consistency. Your team wants to trust where the information is coming from.

Last, not noticing how the receiver receives the message can cause miscommunication. As we speak, we also want to pay attention to the signals coming back to us. Too often, we assume that our words are clear and easily understood, yet sometimes it's not clear, and people walk away from conversations feeling unengaged, hurt, or misunderstood.

The healthiest company cultures are ones where leaders and employees alike feel able to express opinions honestly, without getting defensive.

Explain the importance of asking questions.