How to effectively communicate with your team

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How to effectively communicate with your team

What are your animal instincts when you communicate?

In a recent team meeting at Zentano we were discussing our thoughts and research into effective communication in the workplace. Tasha, our Executive Assistant, stopped us in our tracks by asking “are you more of a cat or dog when you communicate?”.

At first, I wasn’t convinced by the analogy of communicating like a cat or a dog but the deeper we delved into the analogy the more convinced I became that it held some truth. Now, this doesn’t mean that I have a wagging tail or that I purr very much but the analogy is certainly an interesting one.


The Voice of friendliness and helpfulness

My sister has a lovely dog called Reuben. He runs around excitedly and wags his tail incessantly when he meets you. He’s playful, loyal, energetic and most importantly he’s a very good boy! He loves to be around people. Building a relationship with Reuben is easy because he just wants to please you. Whilst he cannot talk, if he did, he would probably tell me tales about his adventures, and they would likely have a strong human element to them. Reuben knows that if he satisfies your needs with his go-give approach, his own needs will be catered for too.

In the workplace, people that share some of Reubens characteristics are important for creating successful and consistently performing teams. Their form of communication, energy and natural inclination to engage with others is vital to team cohesion.

However, be careful not to be too dog-like. When your well-being is intrinsically tied to what others think of you and how much attention they give you, you may often experience dissatisfaction with your relationships. If you experience these feelings, your relationship with yourself and how you relate to others needs some TLC. So, take some time for yourself to gain a little perspective and reset your brain.


The voice of authority and assurance

We adopted Jazz, our cat, over 10 years ago from a rescue centre. Having been abandoned as a tiny kitten you’d think Jazz would be quite grateful and act a little like Reuben in her interactions with me. But this is not the case at all!

Jazz is loved on her terms. Cuddles and strokes when she wants, and she makes it very clear when she does not want to be disturbed with a swift claw swipe. Jazz is aloof, focused on her needs and does not need constant human interaction to feel validated. But when Jazz does need something, she’s very assertive in letting you know. Whether this involves sitting on your chest at 6 am pawing your face or meowing constantly outside her food cupboard she makes sure she’s heard. Jazz carries an air of authority and calm and is constantly curious to explore the world around her. She is very content with who she is on the inside and doesn’t need this validated with praise from others.

In the workplace, we need people who demonstrate Jazz’s characteristics. These characteristics are important for leading successful and consistently performing teams. Knowing when to focus, using your time and energy wisely and when to engage with others is central to being highly productive. Using your right brain to be creative, connect with ideas and concepts is important in determining team performance as is using your left brain to focus on facts and organised actions. Above all, the internal strength and strong sense of purpose will help you communicate in a way that is consistent and measured.


However, just like communicating as a dog, it’s not always good to be too cat-like. Cats are often aloof and distant, but humans are by nature social animals. We need a team and people around us at times to help us overcome adversity and boost our well-being. Being too aloof or withdrawn will not be good for the individual or team.


What does this mean for team dynamics?

Ask yourself are you naturally more dog or cat-like? But more importantly, can you switch communication styles depending on the situation. If you’re not sure how to flex your natural style and adjust how you communicate in certain scenarios or feel that the team dynamics in your workplace aren’t driving successful and consistently performing teams, we can help you. We have a range of profiling tools, workshops and coaching solutions to suit your needs.

Zentano are specialists in developing your full potential with a range of services and training programmes to meet your needs.

Being friendly and helpful yet authoritative and assured is a balance to strike and Zentano can help you achieve it.


Andy Flack, Rich Horton and Dave Morris

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