Communication, while the single most important
contributor to the success of any change, is the hardest part to get right.
Most people understand the mechanics of
communication but we can miss some of the foundational concepts that make
communication more successful.
Communication is bi-directional.
Even if we’re trying to “sell” an idea or a
project, it won’t be sold by a series of decrees made without opportunity for
By listening, we develop relationships and refine
our understanding. We also build trust. Without trust there is no effective communication.
Communication is informal before it becomes formal.
Informal interactions are what make formal communication
People are more candid one-on-one and in smaller
groups and informal settings.
At minimum, strong influencers and those who are exceptionally
knowledgeable about organizational history, happenings, and politics should be
consulted about ideas before we communicate en masse.
But most important, informal communication is critical
to building relationships.
Communication effectiveness increases as relationships develop.
As we get to know people (and organizations), we
can revise our approach to account for how they process information.
Understanding our motivations, stress level, preconceived
ideas, and biases helps us construct messages more clearly. Learning the motivations and biases of those
around us enables us to evaluate their reactions more accurately.
Communication is continuous.
Even if a message has been communicated, refined, validated,
and communicated again, we’re not finished.
Circumstances and perceptions change. Busy people forget.
Communication is like a marriage.
Communication is most successful when each party
attempts to fully consider the viewpoints of the other.
Focusing solely on our own objectives risks misunderstanding,
resentment, and damaged relationships.
And even when those around us aren’t willing to
consider our views, we’re not absolved from considering theirs.
It all comes down to how committed we are to
making it work.