Bill Harrison - Leaders insist on clear communication
“No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others.”
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
What a wise man. He died in 1832 yet his words are still relevant today. What per cent of the time do communication issues come up in my coaching work? If you guessed 100% of the time you would be correct. It always surfaces in one way or another. Most folks are sloppy communicators. Can you agree? Or is it just others who are poor communicators and you are great? Hmmm.
Let’s consider the basic rule of effective communication. It must occur between two or more people. If you are talking to yourself it does not count as communication; and that communication is usually negative anyway right?
Next, it does not matter if that communication is written, face-to-face, phone, text, email or by smoke signals. All parties must thoroughly understand
the communication. Now you know the trick to effective communication. Everything else is mis-communication – period. That is pretty heavy, isn’t it? Yet so simple. Now just start thinking about all the mis-communicating that went on where you work or live so far this year, Wow!
An interesting side note. General Patton, a very good leader, used a specific technique when issuing orders of the day to his troops. When his senior staff prepared the order, General Patton gave it to his driver. If it was clear to him, it was published. If it wasn’t clear to him the general required it be rewritten until it was. Think about it.
The best form of communication is face-to-face because a significant part of that type of communication is non-verbal. You will know immediately if something is not clear. Then you can correct it.
When writing in any form is used check it very carefully for clarity. Ever have things go sideways because of the language in a text or email? Happens a lot doesn’t it? Same things happen with checklists, operations guidelines, etc., etc.
For groups get some of the group together to make sure everything is clear. For one-on-one do the same thing. If you ask folks if they understood what was said or written, what is the standard reply. You are correct – “Yes”. Ask a better question – “What is unclear about this?”
And always, look at folks when they are talking to you if you are shuffling papers on your desk or looking at your cell phone while talking to others you are a lousy communicator. Yes, I did not use that term loosely.
When the communication is clear to all parties, then we have good communication. Make it happen.
Bill Harrison – The Coach - May 2021 Quick Notes