What is communication? What it means to me might not have the same meaning for you. Do our values, culture, behaviour, emotions have some effect on our way of communicating and interacting? What is the role of spoken language and body language within communication and interaction?
I work as a project leader in IT projects. Often the role is called project manager, but leader describes the role better since projects and people in projects need to be lead not only managed. Leading a project includes managing the project tasks of course – but a big part of the job includes interaction with people.
To have a common understanding, here is how I understand these terms interaction and communication.
- is being in contact with the environment and with other people.
- is conscious or unconscious.
- is being present.
- is listening.
- calls for emotional awareness.
- includes communication.
As you can see, communication is part of interaction to me. There are two areas of communication, goal-oriented communication to other people and nonverbal communication.
Goal-oriented communication is words, both spoken and written, and it is conscious. Nonverbal communication (Nonverbal Communication and Body Language, 2020) is most often instinctive. It is formed by multiple ways like body language, tone of voice, the way we listen, how we touch and what is our space, and how we take it. Body language means for example gestures, body posture and movement, facial expressions, and eye contact. This means that communication is not just words but deeds.
Communication at work
I have experienced the importance of communication in my work. For example, the outcome of a root cause analysis is a piece of good evidence. Root cause analysis is often done if something has gone wrong in a project. This is an analysis to find out what was the real reason for what happened. We do this analysis to learn and to be able to prevent the same thing from happening next time and later in the future.
Based on my experience, approximately 80% of all mistakes in projects have happened because someone has thought or assumed something wrong. Therefore, I dare to claim that 80 % of the root causes have been communication-related, lack of communication, or misleading communication. This is no surprise if we think of Wiio’s law, the law that describes it all about how difficult communication really is, it states that ”Communication usually fails, except by accident” (Wiion lait – ja vähän muidenkin, 1978).
Easy to fix? Not at all. It might be if the machines were doing the communication, but because it is we human beings, it gets a bit more difficult. A human being is a complicated creature.
To make us communicate we need to be motivated to communicate.
To make us be motivated to communicate we need to be dedicated to the work that needs communication.
To make us dedicated we need to understand what is in it for each of us. There needs to be trusted for letting us make the decisions and take responsibility. There needs to be an open and honest environment, so that we have psychological security, and the work needs to be consistent with our own values.
To make this all happen we need a lot of active positive interaction between people! We need to be present and focus, listen and receive all types of communication, also the nonverbal communication such as body language.
Communication at Gofore ?
I became Goforean beginning of March 2021, and I was more than interested to find out how things related to the topic are done here. What I have experienced is that people at Gofore know how to communicate and interact, and more than knowing they also do so <3. Here are some reasons why I think so.
I felt and still feel more than welcome. I had a nice surprise phone call on the Friday before starting, Turku office Lead Eero called me just to remind me that I will become a Goforean the following Monday and to wish me welcome! :-D
I feel that I am part of Gofore Crew (and many other different groups as well). During my first month I had the following events related to communication and interaction:
- 6 onboarding meetings with different contents about the story of Gofore, our values, our mission, our strategy, our diversity, our culture, our code of ethics, expectations of Gofore Crew, well-being, Gofore handbook, daring, clubs, this list goes on.
- 4 ”How are you doing” phone calls.
- 24 ”Welcome to the crew”- messages from acquaintances and strangers
- 10 Coffee and weekly encounters
- 1 personal Introduction text with pictures written by me
- 4 afterwork events:
- Massage supported by Gofore
- Online board game
- Amos Rex: Egyptian brilliance, remote guidance
- Remote cooking with colleagues and Harri Syrjänen
- 16 Slack channels (picked out by me out of hundreds)
There are a lot of interesting Slack channels and conversations. The conversions are very open, and I feel that there is a lot of trust among the discussions, since people are asking questions, asking for help, sharing opinions, giving good tips, agreeing, disagreeing, and thinking together – communicating in a way that I have not seen before in work life.
I have almost forgotten the Covid-19 since I have felt that I am in the same room with people – people use videos during the online meetings, they are present, there is interaction, I am able to see them and their nonverbal communication! This means a lot to me, and I think is also one big reason for not feeling alone, when starting in a new company during a remote work situation.
Gofore is growing and this is also visible with the different company cultures that are present. I find it interesting to see how things are solved and how the culture is changing and growing to keep the Gofore values present. I just received the Gofore culture booklet in our old-fashioned mailbox with a chocolate bar that I will enjoy while reading the booklet.
My top list to remember about communication
- There is always interaction when there are two or more people involved.
- We all communicate, whether we want it or not. We should focus on what we communicate and how!
- Rule number one in project communication is “Never assume anything”.
- We shall make sure there is a common understanding about the topic under work.
- Listening to others is also a form of communication.
- Not saying anything is also communication.
- Communication and interaction are the keys to success.
- People at Gofore have good communication skills that are supported by the Gofore culture.
How do you understand communication and interaction? Do we share the same understanding of the subject in question? Would you like to hear more about my experience with project leadership, or experiences here at Gofore? I’m happy to communicate with you!