Information vs. Communication
Communication is the one leadership tool we use the most – but it might be our least effective. The evidence from Gallup is in:
- 7% of U.S. workers strongly agree that communication is accurate, timely, and open where they work.
- 26% of employees strongly agree that their manager’s feedback helps them do better work.
- 22% strongly agree that their leaders have a clear direction for the organization.
Communication is an Experience
A well-thought-out communication process produces the conditions to exchange information and create a shared understanding. We bring our entire selves into our communication: words, expressions, body language, tone, etc. Whether it is a company meeting, email, text message, hallway conversation, or phone call, the act of communicating is creating an experience that impacts leadership effectiveness. In Communicate to Influence, Decker calls out sentiments like: “If I say the words, people will get it” and “I don’t need to prep. I can wing it” as common mistakes people make in business communication.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. — unknown
An excellent communication experience should eliminate confusion, reduce friction, and increase cooperation. Consider this three (3) step process:
Start from the outside in
- Who is the audience?
- What do they need to know?
- What do they want to know?
- Why should they care about this topic?
- Is the message clear and complete?
- Is this message useful for decision-making?
- What is the tone?
- What commitments are attached or inferred in your message?
- How does this message resonate with others?
- Does this message motivate and influence positive behavior?
- Does this message consider feedback as part of the process?
The experience of the receiver matters. Don’t sacrifice connection for content. To be effective, people don’t have to agree on the information/decision relayed in the message. But, you need to have the same understanding of the message. You are in alignment when both the sender and receiver agree on the meaning of the information.
Only 7% of U.S. workers strongly agree that communication is accurate, timely, and open where they work.
The error is thinking “talking” is “communicating”. Having a solid communication process focused on the experience and creating a shared understanding is the key to effective communication and will boost leadership effectiveness.
Communication is a critical leadership tool. Whether you are prepping for a speech or working to improve interpersonal communication — I can help.