I’ve been thinking about the Corona-virus and the impact it is having on organizations. Specifically about how communication plays such a vital role in whether a culture is healthy or not. When we peel back the layers of culture, we will find many things that contribute to it or take away from it. It can involve how we on-board a new team member, role definitions and expectations, the values of the organization; it can be how we celebrate our accomplishments and how we adapt to setbacks when things don’t go as expected.

I have found that a lack of communication is a significant barrier to creating healthy ideal cultures. A misunderstanding of how one prefers to be communicated to or treated can undermine the culture of any organization. When I was growing up, I learned the golden rule “treat others the way you want to be treated,” but how well does that rule serve us today? I might not want to be treated the same way as the next person, and the chances are that it is true for the other person.

While it is essential to understand and know oneself, it is equally important to understand and know others. How many times have you watched someone else and thought to yourself, “why is he/she doing that?” or “why didn’t they complete the task the way I would have?” These types of questions trigger negative emotions within ourselves and for the person on the receiving end. Even if we don’t ask the “why” question to the person, they will be able to sense the negative emotion within us because we can’t hide how we feel. We might be able to put a smile on our face, but if it’s not genuine, others will sense it.

In order to on-board new team members effectively, understand our roles and expectations and all the other areas that make up a healthy organization, we have to be able to communicate well. We can improve communication by suspending judgment. Suspending judgment allows us to see the other person as a fellow human being just like us. Seek to understand the other person by having a “help me understand where you are coming from” attitude. Get curious. Start asking “What” and “How” questions when communicating with the other person. What do you like about what you are doing? What is challenging about this for you? Be personally accountable. Ask yourself how you might be contributing to the situation. How is your behavior impacting communication? Do you stop and listen when someone is talking to you, or do you continue working on your computer while someone is talking to you?

Given the current state with how the Corona-virus is impacting organizations and individuals, it is even more important to communicate effectively. Take a moment to reflect on the health of your organization.  How is communicating impacting your culture? Imagine what you will learn as your organization continues to improve how they communicate with each other.


Photo by Robert Kneschke