You can’t delegate communications
Why do some companies (most) continue to struggle with communication issues?
- Vocabulary differences?
- Use of short hand in communicating?
- Departmental silos?
- Lack of awareness?
Companies make continued efforts to improve communications, but they rarely work. The efforts are faced more on volume and processes, the tactics of communications, rather than the communications themselves, and certainly not on the communicators.
Communications issues typically stem from a lack of listening, a lack of paying attention, and a lack of understanding HOW we communicate.
Types of Written communications
We communicate extensively over written communications:
What’s Missing in Written Communications
We know written communications only give part of the story. Written communications in business only includes the words, it doesn’t include any of the non-verbal communication cues:
- Tone of voice
- Facial reactions
Interpretations of Written Communications
Even with the words, content, written communications makes assumptions that lead to miscommunication of ideas, facts, requests.
- Demands vs requests
- Grammar can change meaning entirely
- Typos can change meaning entirely
- Universal truths are almost never universally ACCEPTED truths
- Are your facts correct?
- Are you omitting content that is critical?
Assumptions in written communications
- Everyone knows how to read charts (they don’t)
- You have defined the data correctly
- Vocabulary is consistent
- You are using the words correctly
- Everyone understands the context
Reception of Written Communications
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the reception of information is rarely, if ever, considered, in business communications.
- Will your audience take your comments defensively?
- Will your audience read the communication in the frame of mind you wrote it?
- Will your audience read the communication at all? or All of it?
- Is your audience paying attention?
Live or Video Communications
Even if we communicate in person (or video), can we overcome all these potential issues? No. Because we don’t understand the purpose of communicating.
Communication is too often seen as documentation. When viewed this way, it is entirely siloed and used to check a box of accountability, summary, or as often noted in business or legal realms, CYA.
Communication is conveying and developing understanding, and in communicating, words, like logic, are cultural.
Successful, worthwhile communication is WHOLLY dependent on you understanding and being understood.
Communication is merely a tool on the continuum of understanding, not to be delegated or diminished.
We don’t hear words strung together, we hear thoughts and areas. We don’t note the definitions, grammar, or semantics of the words. We hear and understand based on our perspective and experiences. How does this information affect us? How have we experienced this? How can we personalize it to better align it and understand deeper? And we do this by listening, by paying attention.
It is your responsibility to make sure your message is understood, and that you understand the message others are communicating. This is a two-way active, not a passive, exercise.
Effective communication starts with listening, paying attention.
“The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply.” ~Steven Covey