“There’s no communication around here.”
It is not uncommon in my work to have teams pleading with me to believe that; ‘nobody communicates with anyone in this company’. Whilst this paints an interesting picture of life in their office – I would like to offer an alternative reality.
Whether we know it- like it, or not- we are always communicating. Verbally, non-verbally, even without intention – silence is a form of communication. We are always communicating, maybe just not as effectively as we wish.
Take the pressures of a normal day, and the requests for our limited time and attention. The workloads, the piles of un-responded-to email, the constant interruptions, and meetings. In our best intended haste, we quickly fire off replies, curtail our conversations, cut people off in meetings, rushing our communications in order to get more done. With all of this speed, how often do you stop and take the time to check that what you said has been fully understood, correctly interpreted, or indeed received as you intended it to be heard?
To quote the playwright George Bernard Shaw: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Communication is a two-way street. We give out a message that makes perfect sense to us (whether verbally, digitally, or written) – and yet we assume that it will be perfectly received by others, with all the context, nuance, intention, and meaning that we sent it with.
Have you ever heard people say: “that wasn’t what I meant”, “that’s not what I said”, “you’re not hearing me right”, “you’re missing the point”? Feedback like this is great, as it’s simply an indicator that we are not communicating well – or as well as we think!
Communications that are rushed, fired off, and not well thought through, lead to the kind of car-crash miscommunication that is commonplace in companies today. Our speed and action to feel that we are making progress actually creates a false economy. It is too easy to overlook the creation of extra email trails, phone calls, meetings, and conversations to clarify what we meant by what we said and how we really intended to say it. Taking responsibility for how our messages will be received in the moment, actually pays dividends in the long term, for a short-term investment of our time.
In order to have ‘great communication’, we want to become acutely aware of, and take full responsibility for our own use of language. In NLP, there is a pre-supposition that: ‘the meaning of communication is the response you get’ – in other words, the receiver’s interpretation, is the message you actually sent, regardless of what you actually said. So, if what you are trying to say isn’t landing, be flexible in your approach and find another way to get your message across.
As a Leader, your words set the example for a team. Getting everyone ‘speaking the same language’ will help to build a healthy, cohesive company culture. For tools to build a cohesive company culture, check out The Vision Component™ & The People Component™ of the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. EOS® is a blueprint for building a growth focused company. If you own a business and are feeling frustrated, stuck or unhappy there are a number of steps you can take today.
Dean is the MD of Grow or Die based in the South West, helping Entrepreneurs & Leadership Teams to realise their company’s full potential as a Certified EOS® Implementer in the UK www.growdie.com