Communication Over Lecture

May 1, 2020

Take these real-world training experiences from columnist Lenny Saucier and apply them to your operation.

At the beginning of the emerging leaders course I pair students up with each other to interview each other. 

They can ask anything they want but they have only 30 seconds to do so. Following that, I have them switch roles as the other person becomes the interviewer. The trick (as taught to me by the Kiisa corporation) is to do this back to back. Not very corona friendly I know. Adding a twist, I put on a video with loud music, a dancing frog, and I go around the room frantically calling out people who are not in line with the rules. This distraction gumbo caused aggravation, chaos and a failure for anyone to really hit their objective.

When interviewing the participants about the task challenges you hear the following. Lack of time, no face to face communication, hard to hear, too much background noise, and too many things going on at the same time. This sounds like a normal scenario for a quick lube shop. I do this to set the tone for communications and how important it is to effectively communicate.

Why should we communicate instead of lecture? Lecturing is telling others about something. You learn nothing and you hope that the others absorb the content. To put it in a more Tibetan spin on it , the Dalhi Lama is quoted: “When you speak, you are only repeating what you already know; when you listen, you are learning something new.” It’s important to understand that you are a leader. The puffy chest leader will say “They need to listen to me, not the other way around.” 

By now I hope you have seen that the puffy chest leader is an idiot. A servant leader will be successful by fulfilling the needs of others.  How can you do this if you don’t listen to the needs of those you serve. And yes, puffy chest leader, your job is to serve your team.

Common Goals

A biblical twist, as stated by David Ramsey, goes back to the tower of babel. In this story a village is referenced where the people decided to build a tower that would reach the heavens rather than going the traditional route to heaven. God had warned them several times to go through him yet the village continued their quest. God had given them all different languages so they could not communicate. In Genesis 11 6:7, The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

If we have a common goal with a common language, we can do almost anything we want. The trick is doing the right things at the right time. If we set out to conquer our own ambitions, we should meet great adversity. If we go out to fulfill the needs of whom we serve for their good than we should be rewarded with a better path and position to do so. One of the greatest things I get to see in life is the people who rally around those who do good and need help.

Meeting Challenges

We have all the challenges in the world with all the tools we need to fix them. We have the ability and the permission in life to look at obstacles and conquer them. We are given our natural tools of a brain, eyes, ears, a mouth and muscles to work through problems. We are also given the gift of technology, which most generations before us have not had. One of the biggest disappointments in the beginning exercise, is I have not yet had a pair of students pull out their phones and engage in telecommunications during this exercise, yet they are on their phones throughout the day for other reasons.

With challenges in communications comes opportunities to stand out when you conquer them. We have email, DM, social media and others that we can use to our advantage. Consider the challenges with social interactions and the latest pandemic. We as an industry better find ways to communicate our needs and abilities to customers when social interactions are restricted. How can we accept payments without touching someone’s card? How can we communicate direct needs of service without a face to face review?

The answers are there and used every day for other purposes. This latest communication obstacle will most probably serve as a norm on handling business in the future. Will you find a way  to rise above, serve your customers and team for the good of the community? Will you puff your chest out and believe that you don’t have to change? We will find out soon enough. Until then, be great!

Photo 90925830 | Auto Mechanic Team © Vadimgozhda |
Photo 177937583 © Alexey Novikov |
Photo 44934840 © Wayne Mckown |