Simple Action Beats Stagnant Brilliance

communication communication skills in the workplace disc effective communication effective communication skills human behavior leadership May 09, 2021
Communication Skills in the Workplace

When Cindy and I received an invitation to contribute a chapter for Discover Your Team’s Potential: Proven Principles to Help Engage Your Team & Improve Performance, I was a little bit intimidated at first. Several of the others involved with medical doctors, PhD’s, and high level executives in large organizations. I initially wondered what a high school push-out with only hands-on experience in building teams and teaching communication skills in practical settings could contribute to a real book that was going to be printed - and eventually achieve best-seller status. Not one to pass up an opportunity, I agreed for both of us and the rest is history - kind of…

In the last post, we started looking at the importance of communication skills in the workplace. During the decade or so I was training people across North America on the principles of behavior-based safety, I studied a lot of different approaches to communicating more effectively. Not only did the way I communicated play a critical role in whether or not the training I was providing had any tangible impact, communication would be a large factor in the results each person achieved as they applied that training after I left their facility. Tradition safety compliance is often based on rules and regulations, typically backed by various types of disciplinary action when you’re caught violating those rules. The key to that having any lasting impact usually boils down to whether or not we get caught… Think about it, how many times have you had the cruise control set higher than the speed limit and immediately tapped the brakes when you saw blue lights ahead - even if those lights were stopped along the road on the opposite side of the interstate? Without the potential of being caught, we’re nearly always willing to push the boundaries just a bit!

The behavior-based safety model I trained on took an entirely different approach; we focused on explaining the potential hazard the team member was exposed to when they did certain things, we challenged them to identify alternative ways to perform the tasks while reducing or completely eliminating the risk of injury, and we sought agreement from them to modify their behavior to implement their potential solution moving forward. Since all of this was done on a confidential basis, with no potential for discipline regardless of what they did during that interaction, being able to effectively communicate what we saw as a potential hazard was the cornerstone of what we did!

I studied all kinds of books to improve my own communication skills and to learn what I could provide those teams with so they could achieve great results. Most of what I worked through was pretty academic; it wasn’t necessarily bad information, it just wasn’t all that easy to apply. Not long before I moved into a different role, I read John Maxwell’s Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. That provided me with some of the simplest concepts I had seen to that point! That book has been so helpful that Cindy and I built two of the six lessons in our Emerging Leader Development course around the concepts John shared. While it wasn’t until years later that I really dug into it, John even spoke to the power of the DISC Model of Human Behavior for communicating more effectively…

In addition to all the books I was reading (or listening to as I drove or flew around the country), I took what seemed like dozens of assessments that were touted as being the best thing since sliced bread when it came to helping someone communicate more effectively. I can’t think of a single one that I didn’t find fascinating! But I also can’t think of any that I was ever able to figure out how to apply - until 2015 when I started learning more about that DISC thing John mentioned in his book several years earlier. The more I studied it, the more excited I got about it! It was truly the first tool I had ever seen that gave me a foundation for actually applying the concepts!

Over the last twenty or so years, I’ve read hundreds of books on leadership and communication. I’d guess I’ve also listened to tens of thousands of hours of audio books and lessons on those same topics. The one thing I’ve realized through all that, which really applies to any other area of life too, has been that even the simplest thing we take action on ALWAYS yields better results than a brilliant plan that’s never implemented because it’s so complicated. Now that I think about, simplicity and action is likely what earned us the invitation to contribute to Discover Your Team’s Potential…?

In the next two posts, I’ll share what I believe are the most powerful pieces of what I’ve come to know as the DISC Model of Human Behavior - and these are things that are incredibly easy to understand, easy to recognize in the individuals we’re communicating with, and simple to apply on a daily basis.