Communication 101: Getting the Work Done Vs. People Liking You

Posted on | March 2, 2010 | No Comments

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Another title for this article could be: “I Don’t Care if They Like Me, I Have to Get the Work Done.”


You have probably heard the refrain: It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it. Many a manager I have met has told me, “My job is not to have people like me, it’s to get the work done.” That is often their excuse for not saying things in a way that can be heard.

Just think about that: saying things in a way that can be heard. It’s not about being LIKED; it is about getting the work done effectively and efficiently. To get the work done, however, you have to communicate in ways that people can hear you. You have to not just listen to words, but take in the information and use it. Your job as manager or co-worker is to communicate in a variety of methods and in ways that people are willing to listen to you. You may not be liked but you should have earned respect and have the ability to motivate your people.

In my experience some people are aware of how they are impacting people, others are not. If you are aware, then you are halfway there. You need only to try new techniques. For those of you who know something is wrong but don’t know what it is, here are a few tips:

1 Get feedback. Ask trusted colleagues or employees for some feedback. Ask them to be very specific. What does it look like when you are impacting people negatively or positively? Without specifics you can’t change the behavior.

2. Check how you are feeling. Often behaviors are a result of an emotion or feeling. Begin to practice just noticing what’s happening in your body. Do you feel tense? Frustrated? Angry?? At ease? How is that feeling showing up in your communication style? People hear words but the message is often in the tone.

3. Check your priorities. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Do you value expediency over relationships? Doing it right versus teaching someone? Make a list of what you think your values are at work and then another list for home. Do they match? Are they different? Sometimes we keep the heartfelt values at home and bring task-related values to work. See what needs to be blended or applied in both places. Getting your values clear in all parts of your life will help you feel more of yourself everywhere you go.

4. Be purposeful about how you want people to feel. When you are communicating take a minute and think about the message you want to send—in terms of the language you use, the points you want to make, and how you want people to feel. If you want them to feel motivated, enthusiastic, and included, be sure to build your message in a way that transmits the right feeling.

If nothing else, remember the words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And it’s how people feel that will drive their behavior.


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