I first came across this concept a number of years ago. The longer we have worked with it the more it resonates for us and those leaders who take time to really think about the role and benefit of clear communication.
In our work in culture, leadership, management and coaching, communication issues are raised consistently as one of the most challenging. In fact, I’d go so far as to say with communication you will rarely get it right, all you can do is continuously improve it.
Even working with the most effective leaders in the most constructive of cultures we still see leaders and managers slipping into blaming others instead of looking at themselves when the outcome of their communication does not produce what they want.
I would like a dollar for every time I have heard a manager or a leader say words to the effect of “What’s wrong with these people, why don’t they get what I am saying?” In and of itself this statement lays the responsibility and ultimately the blame at the recipient’s feet. The question is how can the recipient be responsible when the meaning from any piece of communication is assigned by them, not by the sender.
So as leader if you are not getting the response from your communication that you want then first look to yourself and your communication shortcomings and stop being so quick to blame others.
Here are some tips you can try:
- Know yourself. If you are unwilling to look at your behaviour and understand why you react in certain ways to different issues then it will be harder for you to communicate with other people.
- Be clear about your intentions. The starting point when communicating is clear goals and outcomes.
- What is your audience’s emotional state now and what will it be after they receive your message? If you can’t answer this question you are not ready to communicate. If you don’t know the answer then you will have no idea of what responses you can expect.
- Express your message in their terms. The most important outcome is what the people receiving your message do with it. Remember they have a choice.
- Match the medium and the message. How, when and where the message is delivered are all messages within themselves. Remember a picture can truly be worth a thousand words.
- You are never sending a simple message. Because it is meaning that people take out of messages, communication is complex.
- People are more likely to change in response to communication accompanied by action rather than by communication alone. People will get involved if action is required, if there is something meaningful to be achieved.
- Never assume that because you have delivered your message communication has occurred. Test. Find out what your audience took from your message. If the feedback tells you their ‘take-out’ is not what you wanted, don’t blame them.
Remember as leaders and managers ‘true communication is the response you get‘. Talk with us about how we enable leaders and managers become better communicators.
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