Everyone is an expert
Mention communication and everyone is an expert and has a story to tell. The expertise is often an opinion on what constitutes good communication and the story is mostly about how communication has somehow failed.
Since we are so good at recognising examples of poor communication, we must therefore know what good looks like. Consequently, all we have to do is apply the good communication practice that we already know and the world would be a better place, business life would be a doddle and personal relationships a breeze.
Why then, do so many people perpetrate or suffer from bad communication? One of the questions often reflected in WBS Group’s tailored training programmes.
I have never met a person who has openly admitted being a poor communicator – have you?
Experts, however, are abundant. Amazon’s book department stocks well over 300,000 titles covering communication in one form or another telling us how to go about it.
Skills and techniques are important, but they will only truly work if they build on an understanding of some fundamental principles.
Good communication is taken for granted
When we take something (or someone) for granted it signals that we have stopped paying attention. Relationships sometimes beak down because one person feels taken for granted.
The same fundamental principle applies to communication – ignore it and it will go wrong. Pay attention to your communication and you will find yourself applying your own continuous improvement scheme to the way you interact with other people. The positive reactions you get as a result are enough motivation to carry on.
For decades, my CV has proudly stated that I have “excellent communication skills” because so many job advertisement I responded to asked for it, and the statement has remained in my CV ever since. The sad fact is that no recruiter has ever challenged me on these skills or asked for evidence of situations where I have used them. Excellent communication skills were simply taken for granted and certainly not anywhere near top of the list of job/person requirements.
Me, me, me
Spare a thought for you audience – another fundamental principle. Communicating purely from your own perspective, will lead to unwanted results and reactions.
Who does not remember the arrogant hopefuls on BBC’s “The Apprentice” who forcefully claim that they “can get their point across” and then follow up by talking at or over everybody they get in contact with?
Getting one’s point across is of course important and is best achieved by knowing and respecting the audience. It does not matter whether you speak, write, or simply enter a room – you will always have an audience and it is your job to make sure that you “send” your message with the best of intentions in the clearest possible way. Put very simply, to be perceived as genuine, your message must have matching body language and behaviour. If you say/write you will do it – then do it!
Also, your style must be adapted to the audience, the situation, and the method of communication.
You don’t fire people by SMS, talk baby-speak to your board of directors, or email your departmental P&L to your 5-year old for comment.
No communication is a myth
It is impossible not to communicate. The very absence of what we normally think of as communication (written/verbal) is in itself sending a signal that will be perceived in different ways from person to person. Silence can be very deafening.
There is good reason for the expression “to be on the same wave length”. People are very good at picking up the subtle signals from non-verbal communication such as body language, tone of voice, choice of words. The way we say nothing, enter a room, look somebody in the eye, slam a door, etc. all convey a message.
Even so-called one-way communication is two-way. There will always be a reaction to the message whether or not this reaction is or can be received by the sender. A 30 mile an hour sign in a road that clearly lends itself to driving faster may trigger rude comments in the car, but the council putting up the sign is none the wiser. The memo from management may spark debate, contempt, or joy, but management may never be directly aware of those reactions.
How do you react and respond to communication you receive? How do you react to responses to your own communication? What responsibility do you take for maintaining or improving good communication?
Take a look at your own organisation
Missed sales appointments, double bookings, general confusion, poor performance, constant firefighting, and rumours are just some symptoms of ineffective communication you may find.
Communication is about action, reaction, responsibility and constant attention.
To find out how WBS can assist you in improving communication in your organisation simply contact us for an initial FREE no obligation consultation.
You can also read more about our Communication Training on our website here. We will always tailor the course to your specific requirements.
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