In recent posts, I’ve been focusing on specific disciplines required to run a precision business. Continuing that theme, today it’s that old nemesis, communications.
When working with clients, I almost always hear “we’ve got a communications problem around here”. In some cases, that may well be true but just as often, so called communications problems are other issues masquerading as communication problems. They can be organizational misunderstandings, timing problems or any number of other things but it’s just so easy to put them in the communications bucket.
To ensure effective communications throughout any organization, we must communicate the same information more than just once. All too often, managers think they’ve communicated merely because they spoke or wrote some words.
Communication is so much more than simply broadcasting information. A definition I really like is; Sending information and obtaining understanding. It’s the second half of that definition that frequently overlooked.
Whether the communication is top down, cross functional or bottom up, the sender is always responsible for the quality of the communication. How many times have we said (or thought), I said that perfectly clearly, how could you possible not understand?
People have great difficulty listening effectively due to distractions, timing, lack of interest or just poor listening skills. Just because you’ve said it, doesn’t mean they got it.
So, when communicating, follow the following guidelines.
- PREPARING TO COMMUNICATE
- Think before sending
- Clarify the purpose
- Respect the receivers viewpoint and feelings
- Determine the best time and medium
- Outline vital points
- SENDING THE MESSAGE
- Get receivers attention
- Stimulate interest
- Relate the message to goals
- Identify needed action
- Be alert to obstacles
- Be open to feedback
- Confirm understanding
- RECEIVING THE MESSAGE
- Be open versus preconceived
- Identify key points being made
- Focus on feelings as well as facts
- Respect the senders viewpoint
- Avoid preoccupations
- EVALUATING COMMUNICATION
- How well was the purpose realized
- What obstacles impeded understanding
- What is the credibility rating for future communication
When receiving information, be sure to ask great question.
ASKING QUESTIONS – THE ART OF INQUIRY
- Suspend Assumptions
- Avoid preconceived ideas
- Avoid advocacy
- Ask open ended questions
- Listen with your third ear
- Provide feedback
How are communications in your organization?