Communication is a funny thing. It sounds easy in practice but usually ends up being much more difficult to effectively execute. I’ve gone about solving it in a number of different ways depending on the situation at hand – whether it be between colleagues, direct reports, indirect reports, etc. However, one universal truth I know is that it has to start from the top down – whether that’s you with your own team or from your own leadership. I suppose, In some ways, this is akin to leading by example.
Okay, so that sounds simple enough -- make sure as a leader that you are communicating effectively up, down, to the left, to the right, and any other direction between. But we know that it isn’t that simple. I bet that if you were to ask most people about their communication habits, they would say that they personally do a fine job of it. I’d assume you’d see similar skewed results when people are asked whether or not they are above average drivers – the majority of those asked say they are above average, but of course this cannot be since half need to be above and half below whatever that average is. So where does this leave us? This leaves us with needing to understand that we can all probably do something to improve our current communication habits, but that many of the problems or roadblocks in communication today have probably not even been identified.
So now we’ve arrived at the fact that most people don’t even know they’re bad at communication! Ugh, what a pain this can be to get through and improve, and brings me back by needing to lead by example whenever you can. Over communicate, talk to those around you about your trying to improve communication, look for examples you can point to as to where communication has broken down. Do whatever you can to bring awareness to the fact that communication can almost ALWAYS be improved, and lead by example – be an engine, not a caboose as my mother always said.
Now you’re humming along and firing on all communication cylinders … but for those of you that are already ahead of me, this can be riddled with issues and problems. For example, have you ever been in a meeting, only to realize you didn’t listen to a single word of what anyone was saying? Or how about sitting in a meeting that you actually paid attention throughout, only to realize none of it pertained to you, or even worse, the 45 minutes could have been summed up in 5 minutes had the person across the table been more concise and prepared to communicate? If any of this sounds familiar, it’s the problem of communicating incorrectly or inefficiently.
Honestly, I’m not even sure which of the above is the biggest problem or the biggest time suck. I feel like I’m always hearing about things after-the-fact, or that I’m looped into a million meetings in which are a huge time suck and could have been condensed to a few minutes with a little foresight. My advice is tackling all of them at the same time the best you can. Yes, it’s a cop out answer, but the reality is that they can and should all be worked on simultaneously.
Speaking of being concise, I probably could have used bullet points and made this post about a tenth as long, but you came here for interesting content and witty writing, not bullet points.