CQ: Connection is the Bridge in ACEing Communication

Communication Intelligence requires connected teams

In the last article we discussed how being Aware of stylistic differences in communications is the first pillar of skilled Communication Intelligence (CQ). Remember the highway analogy? It likened drivers moving at different speeds on the highway to people communicating in different styles in the workplace. Individual styles often trump community needs on the highway resulting in accidents and danger and that same individuality can have negative impacts in the workplace too. In fact, a recent study states disconnected or lonely employees have higher risk of turnover, lower productivity, more missed days, and lower quality of work. The goal of implementing the ACE Framework is to improve your overall Communication Intelligence (CQ). Improvements in CQ optimize the interactions between your employees ultimately leading to high ROI outcomes.

Connection is the Bridge to Engaged Teams

Connection is the next pillar of the ACE Framework. Connections happen when we bridge the gap between styles in order to appeal to and connect the listener(s) to the speaker. Once you are Aware of your coworker’s style you can begin to “merge lanes” by intentionally relaying information to connect with them in a way that makes the most sense to them. Connection requires you to focus on the other person’s verbal and non-verbal cues to gauge how they are receiving your message and adjust your communication accordingly.

Connection Happens at the Receiver’s Ear, not the Speaker’s Mouth

In the ACE Framework, Connection is the transition opportunity between Awareness and Engagement, the bridge to cross to clearly convey your communication to the listener and ensure understanding. Once you have established this bridge, no matter how small, you can more easily transition to engagement, the last step in the ACE framework to elevate your CQ.

Connecting within each individual interaction ensures that the information is accurately received by both parties, eliminating confusion, and creating a shared understanding. Connection is often tough to define or identify, but the absence of connection will feel obvious. The lack of connection leaves us feeling mistrustful, annoyed, or confused. In contrast, connecting is energizing, positive, and supportive. Connection does not mean complete agreement, rather an alignment on goals and making employees feel like valued team members who each have something to contribute. Making a connection with someone can be as easy as finding common ground on something small, like a love for coffee or travel, in order to develop a shared starting point. (Even Bank Robbers, DJs, Preachers and Your Mom Taking Off Your Sweater when you were little can find connection.)

Once sparked, our memory of connection to a person or team, or lack thereof, imparts feelings about working together. When you connect with people you associate positive feelings towards them and when communication is lost, negative feelings emerge. These feelings subconsciously affect future interactions. We extend generosity to positive connections within teams and suspicion and negative feelings towards previously disconnected parties.

The chart, below, summarizes the contrast between how Connected teams feel and function versus disconnected teams.

Connected Teams:Disconnected Teams:
  • Commitment  
  • Team members feel valued
  • Clarity
  • Collaboration 
  • Respect
  • Inclusivity 
  • Cooperation
  • Trust 
  • Innovation
  • Supported
  • Disengagement
  • Team members feel under- valued
  • Confusion
  • Competition 
  • Annoyance 
  • Isolation 
  • Manipulation
  • Mistrust
  • Apathy
  • Judged

Connected Employees Are More Productive, Loyal and Innovative

A recent HBR Article confirms that Connection in the workplace has become increasingly important and challenging in our remote and hybrid working environments where incidental chances for connecting between co-workers become more difficult. Employee disconnection is one of the main drivers of voluntary turnover and lonely employees cost U.S. companies up to $406 billion every year. Inversely, the article states that research by BetterUp found that employees who experience high levels of belonging have a drop in turnover risk, an increase in job performance, and an increase in their employer promoter score resulting in annual savings of $52 million for a 10,000 person company.

Connecting Should Not Be Left To Luck

Being a skilled communicator, requires being strategic and intentional about each step of the ACE Framework. We can take intentional actions to connect with a team member. To forge Connection, be aware of the other person’s style and then think about a specific point of commonality, something that serves as an in-road to working together, perhaps a common interest or shared experience. Connection may require offering key information both multiple times and in a variety of ways so you increase the chances of strong connection. The most important part is to bridge the different perspectives that they may have and consciously adjust the way you communicate to emphasize openness and understanding. By taking the extra effort to thoughtfully alter your communication style to help your listener connect, you create a culture where employees feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts and give their strongest contribution.

How SSL Can Help

The good news is that CQ can be learned and improved upon with a growth mindset. We have helped you to understand the importance of Awareness and Connection so you and your team are ready for Engagement– the final component of the ACE Framework. While Connection is not a difficult concept to appreciate, many leaders and teams struggle with its execution- that is where Sailor’s Sweet Life can help.

Next week, we will share tactics for implementing strong Engagement. Until then, please reach out with any questions at Info@SailorsSweetLife.com. We value your feedback.

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