“I was perfectly clear with my directions, what is it about clarity do you not understand?”
While not all of us have heard those words or said those words, I am quite confident that others have thought them when talking with us, or we have thought them talking with others. We convey a message and KNOW that we were clear when we spoke and that we did not use vague words or anything of the like. However, it’s not our words that need help, it’s the message we communicate! If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife!!
The problem is not that that our language lacks clarity, we often-times are, however, we tend to use the wrong standard to measure our clarity, ourselves (or yourself). When we communicate with anyone we have to remember that clarity is best and only judged by the receiver. It is important to remember that communication does not occur unless the message is conveyed and received. Note, I said the “message” not the words. Words are easy to communicate, but words only represent part of, a very small part of, the communication!
As a manager it is imperative that communications are not just heard but understood. To help in that process, here are four things to think about when communicating:
Be Cognizant of Emotions
It is amazing how emotions can influence our communication and impact the reception of our communications. A leader has to be aware of the emotions at the time of communication and work to develop the right message or maintain a high enough level of awareness that they can react appropriately if a communication is not received correctly.
Check Your Thinking
Leaders are human and humans are notorious for working off of assumptions that we think are facts. A leader will check their thinking so as not to assume that employees think one way or the other. This allows the leader to communicate not just in the right way, but more importantly communicate the right things!
Know Your Receiver
A good communicator puts him or herself in the shoes of the receiver before or during the conversation to ensure that the receiver is getting the information they need in the way they need it. What “we” need, how we like people to communicate with us is not the standard. Communication is yet one more opportunity to practice the platinum rule “do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”
Use Your Mouth Proportionately
The only way a leader can know if good communication has occurred is if he or she listens. It is amazing how well our employees will help us communicate with them if we let them. Questions are your best friend as they allow people to assimilate information in a way that fits them. Questions asked by an employee also tells the leader what additional information they need AND whether or not they are getting what they need.
While we all instinctively know how important effective communication is, we put far too little effort into communicating effectively. Instead we seem to put the least amount of effort into that process as possible and in doing so we limit our success potential and thusly the success potential of those we lead!
It really is pretty simple, just not always easy!