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Self-awareness: communicating for better workplace relationships

by Jennifer McCoy

Workplace relationships stand or fall on communication; on the skill of workplace managers and leaders to harness the power of communication.

Essentially all leadership skills involve communicating: behaving in ways that influence people, or allow them to negotiate powerfully, or help them to persuade people to their point of view.

Communicating so that both parties are satisfied with the outcome; that both feel the relationship has been enhanced by their interaction. Effective leaders are communicators, good at building relationships.

Communicating effectively means understanding your strengths, what it is you do that works; as well as knowing your limitations, where communication doesn't seem to work.

Recognising your strengths and so using them more; knowing your limitations and then improving those skills, link directly to more effective relationships. These things are surely worth investigating.

Employee relationship challenges are common. Leaders will raise questions like:

  • How can I encourage this employee to take on (a higher responsibility, a project)?
  • Why are these employees suddenly resentful, and resisting simple changes I need?
  • What else do I have to do to explain... I've told them over and over and they still don't get it.

These questions and the skills that arise from them, lie at the heart of workplace communication and manager-employee relationships. A source of stress, for both parties. But how does self-awareness help?

Developing self-awareness about how well we communicate and what we might do to communicate more effectively can come from asking for feedback; asking questions to check understanding; learning to listen respectfully. But these methods can be slow and imprecise.

Far more effective is using an assessment tool to diagnose your skills. We use Dr Irwin Rubin's tool, The Behavior Minder™, a 360degree online feedback process. An assessment using this tool provides quite precise information comparing one person's assessment with another, a manager's self-assessment with those of his employees.

Consider these behaviours and ask yourself how well you believe you communicate. Would your staff agree with your self-assessment?

Use a scale of 1 from (1) Not at all to (5) Always:

  • I clearly explain the bases for my decisions.
  • I tell you what I like about what you are doing.
  • I openly provide you with information you might not normally have.
  • I admit my mistakes.

Look back again at those common challenges above and consider: could those challenges have been addressed more effectively if the manager had been aware of his limitations and had carefully reviewed his communication strategy?

If you'd like to improve your communication, ring Jennifer on 0425 726 340 and start your self-awareness journey now.


Rubin, I. The ABCs of effective communication. Temenos.