Collaborative Communication

We often talk about communication, and in my work with franchisees I often hear “I wish I would receive more communication from my Franchisor”. At the same time I hear from the Franchisors I work with; “we are sending newsletters, flash alerts, updates and video conferencing but our franchisees are never happy”. The truth is because the franchisee and franchisor are only sharing in what I call basic and Moderate communication.

All communication is important, but you need to have deep and meaningful communication if you are to build a relationship that is mutually beneficial. This is true in our personal life and in our business life. I have broken communication down into 3 levels for a better way to label and understand how communication can work between the Franchisee and Franchisor I call it the Tri-Communication Theory.

Tri-Communication Theory

Level one:

Basic Communication, the very basic way we communicate to each other, such as body language and facial expressions. Note that just because it is called Basic Communication does not mean it is not important. We all know how powerful someone’s body language can be, it can make or break a deal, but this is something that we all use whether we know it or not, so I call this Basic Communication. In many cases we have not even learned how to control this form of communication at the most important of times, although this is for another article. Just know that Basic Communication is important, but at the bottom of my scale as it happens constantly and without thought.

Second level:

Moderate Communication, and it is at this level that we pay the most attention; it is at this level that most of us feel we perform the majority of communication. This level consists of writing letters and emails, talking on the phone, reading items sent to us and, the most common and the one we are so proud of ourselves, is for talking and listening. This is the point where many franchisors have said; “I went out to visit the Franchisee, what more do they want?” Or, “We called every Franchisee last month to see how they were doing, isn’t that enough?” The answer is no, this is only moderate communication and does very little to grow or build a relationship. It is a good way to share a rule, idea or a procedure but it will not encourage the franchisor and franchisee to walk away from a situation with any new ownership of an idea or a feeling of fulfillment.

Third and highest level

In my Tri-Communication Theory is called Intense Communication and it is a two way form of communication that goes beyond talking and listening. This level of communication must have elements of collaboration, in depth interaction, sharing of ideas and showing each other that they understand the ideas being shared. Listening is not enough. When one can recite back the shared idea and add something to it that is positive, then that is the level three of communication. One does not have to agree with an idea to find a positive perspective in that idea.

What are some of the ways to use Collaborative Communication?

First thing to remember in Collaborative Communication is that it must be a cooperative or two-way effort. This means that it includes more than one person and it means that the people who are included are all part of the input and the communication. Although this may sound obvious, I once had a client who thought collaborative communication was asking “Is that ok with you?” Of course that is not collaborative. Asking, “What do you think about that” is to invite an individuals’ perspective which in turn becomes a collaborative effort and by following through on this you may be able to reach the collaborative communication level.

One sure way to find out if you are using Collaborative Communication is by listening; do you hear and make sure the people you are communicating with know you are listening? Asking questions; when you listen is to make sure you have a deep understanding of what is being said. Recapping; are you recapping what is said and asking if you have it right? Positive feedback; are you giving positive feedback on the idea so that it is seen that you can see the good in what is being discussed? Opinion; are you giving your opinion and asking others what they think about your ideas? Coming together; are you finding or working with everyone to find a way to come together on the ideas being shared. If nothing changes, or one part of the group is not satisfied, you have not had a successful collaborative communication session.

You can agree to disagree as long as you are all willing to continue to understand each other and return for more sessions of collaborative communication. After all if you do not, only negative will come from the sessions, such as arguing, mistrust, litigation and more unrest. As long as you work together and do not give up and, commit to continue collaborative communication, good things will come from that; trust, problem solving, profits, looking out for each other, and enjoying working together.

Keep your commitment to collaborative communication and make sure you are doing what it takes to meet that standard,

1. Listening

2. Asking questions

3. Recapping

4. Positive feedback

5. Opinion

6. Coming together

If you can work on this you can accomplish just about anything. It may be creating better relationships, negotiating and marketing, signing a franchise agreement, sitting on a committee or anything else that needs to be done. Collaborative Communication can help you find the answers!

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