Internal communication is one of the biggest challenges that many Gatewood Consulting clients face, they appreciate the importance and often assume it is working, that is until they actually ask their employees. What can the elephant teach us about effective communication? During a recent trip to Thailand I was lucking enough to visit an Eco-friendly sanctuary that enables tourists to understand more about these magnificent animals and how they communicate; feeding and bathng these rescued animals was an amazing experience.
1) Be as consistent as the Kwan-chang
Communicative relationships are critical to your workplace and ultimately your success in business. The Kwan-Chang appreciates that to work with the elephant it takes patience and consistency and that a trusting relationship is the key. The guides told us if you work with an Elephant for many months they will always respond to you, even years later.
How does this transfer to your team. Whenever I deliver Management Training I am asked; “Just how many times do I need to repeat myself?” I always answer as many times as the person needs; the key thing is that the message is consistent; you may just need to communicate it in different ways.
2) Bananas speak louder than words
Until I was kissed on the cheek by a baby elephant’s trunk I underestimated the suction power! The Kwan-chang said the baby elephant has been rescued at such a young age that it was used to humans, and still cheeky enough to squirt me back whilst enjoying his bath. The guide explained it was easier to work with him and he had the enthusiasm and exuberance; whereas the older ones had been worked hard and mistreated so were more resistance.
Some of the older elephants stood back observing, they were very interested once the bananas were being distributed but they were not set to perform. Whilst washing the larger elephant I was instructed by the guide that when she moved her ears a certain way it was because I was in the wrong place. As we know communication does not have to be verbal, I promptly redirected the water stream! There has to be something in it for everyone – communication is a two way street!
3) Building bonds that build respect
Our teams may be quite diverse and responsive to different styles of communication; we are also dealing with the broken emotional contracts they have experienced. The rolling of the eyes at the suggestion of a team meeting; the deletion of the employee engagement survey; the “We’ve tried it before and it didn’t work” responses. We need to remember that sometimes those relationships need the trust rebuilding before they can be moved forward.
Take the time to test the communication strategy you believe to be in place is working; are the weekly meetings still happening or has interest waned? Are people contributing to the newsletters or at the very least reading them? Are you communicating to everyone? Even the Kwang Chang have their failures; one of the older elephants decided to take herself back to the jungle, no matter how many times he called her back, she refused. He laughed and said; “She will come back tomorrow!” No frustration or blame for her refusal to listen, it simply wasn’t the right time.
Good Communication lasts a lifetime
They say an elephant never forgets, it certainly seems they never forget someone they trust. Ensure you are engaging your teams and customers and delivering honest and open communication, that way you can move a mountain, or elephants at least. Talk to us about how we can help you improve your communication and ensure your organisation is successful. From employee engagement surveys, behavioural profiling to accredited training.Remember to be clear and consistent with your communicaton and build relationships that garner a trust that could last the life time of an elephant.
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