Our household is alive with World Cup fever. I have to admit that I love a bit of football and enjoy watching the game. As a teenager I was a keen Aston Villa fan. I even had a season ticket for a couple of years and in this post I reflect on what we can learn about communication from the best football teams.

They work together

Most people know the cheesy adage for team that ‘together everyone achieves more’ but there is some profound truth in this saying too. Star players like Ronaldo make a big difference but he can only score a hat trick when his team mates work with him to set up those goal scoring opportunities. When they collaborate well, read each others positions and pay attention they create the space for Ronaldo to finish off with a cracking goal and the whole team has a chance of winning.

In our relationships, communication always involves at least one other person. Seeing this as a process of teamwork can help us to get the best result and get a win-win for everyone involved. In normal conversation, this often happens naturally. It can be more tricky when we’re a bit stressed or where there are differences of opinion. If we compete with each other to get to prove our point, it may be satisfying at first but soon it creates disconnection. Surely the whole aim is to connect?

They are disciplined

The best teams only get to be the best through disciplined and consistent practice. They practice hard and they practice regularly. Just like football, good communication is a skill that can be learned and practiced. That bears repeating. Good communication is a skill that can be learned and practiced. As a trainer, I teach the skills and techniques that will vastly improve communication and enhance relationships, but these will only make a real difference when the person takes away that learning and applies it day in, day out. This takes discipline. And practice.
One of the reasons I do this work is that I need to learn this time and again and there is nothing like teaching others to be reminded.

They learn from experience

Footballers in the World Cup are being watched by the whole world as they make mistakes and you can bet that they will learn from those experiences and work hard to do it differently next time.

If we keep on doing things the way we’ve always done them, it’s likely that we’ll get the same results. I take a while to learn from my experiences and it usually takes more than one or two occasions for me to notice that I’m not getting what I want from this particular way of doing things. Here’s a simple example. In the past, I would avoid difficult conversations and would prefer to approach them via a letter (remember those days anyone?), e-mail or even text. More on this in a future post, but I have learned from personal experience that this rarely gets things off to a good start.

Let’s not be too hard on ourselves and instead of beating ourselves up when we ‘get it wrong’, let’s see it as a chance to reflect on what didn’t work and maybe try a different tack next time.

Let’s remember that we’re all in this together and with teamwork, discipline, practice and learning from experience we can become more skilled and confident in handling those tricky moments in our relationships.