If You Can’t Communicate Effectively – You Can’t Manage

How would you define communication? What are you trying to accomplish when communicating with someone else? I define communication as an exchange of thoughts and ideas amongst one or more persons. (Of course I’ve been known to talk to myself on more than one occasion) The key word here is “Exchange”. An exchange suggests to me that effective communication takes two. (The sender and the receiver) Talking and communicating are two different things. Managers often fall into the trap of talking too much and not communicating enough. If you can’t communicate effectively – then you can’t manage – period!

Worth Remembering … “Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much” – Robert Greenleaf

Tips for Communicating and Interacting More Effectively

  • When giving instructions use direct, to-the-point communication without a lot of social chatter. Too much information muddies the water and tends to confuse the brain. (Less is more).
  • Check at the end of the discussion to make sure everything was heard and the receiver received the message the way it was intended. Ask open-ended questions to promote dialogue. (The Five W’s – What, Where, When, Why and How)
  • Don’t use a closed question if you want to promote dialogue. Closed will only get you a one word response. (Yes, No, Maybe, So)
  • Use informal, open-ended discussions in a social environment. It encourages small talk and small talk is important for building rapport and developing relationships.
  • Provide an opportunity to share stories and ideas in an enthusiastic exchange. (It lets the other person know that you like them. People won’t be interested in you unless you are interested in them.)
  • Use two-way dialogue. Responding to a person’s feelings is just as important as to what is being said. (Empathy is an important 21st Century skill to have)
  • Provide regular opportunities for informal, casual discussions. (This is a great exercise for building collaborative teams)
  • Listen more than you talk. (Don’t take over the conversation)
  • Initiate conversations in a friendly, low-key manner
  • Use formal communication in new situations, avoiding personal questions until you have established a relationship.
  • Use logical, matter-of-fact statements rather than emotional expressions when you are upset about a particular situation. (Deal with the facts only – keep your emotions in check – take a deep breath or a long walk)
  • Smile and keep your arms down at your sides.
  • Check for points of disagreement or misunderstanding by being more intuitive to the non-verbal signals being sent. Make sure your actions and words are as one. (The other person will believe the non-verbal to be more accurate.) We communicate 55% of the time by body language alone.
Worth Remembering … “We have needed to define ourselves by reclaiming the words that define us. We have used language as weapons. When we open ourselves to what they say and how they say it, our narrow prejudices evaporate and we are nourished and armed” – Selma James