We all know that communication is the key to all good things. What isn't so clear is just exactly how to communicate well. Here is some actionable advice for leaders who want to succeed by communicating well.
The ironic thing about most communication advice we get form the "experts" is that they rarely provide actionable examples of how to communicate well. We hear up one side and down the other how important communication is, and it absolutely is, but how about telling us how to do it effectively?
I came across a blog by a guy named Jason Seiden who actually offers actionable advice for developing good communication skills. First, he explains what communciaton really is:
"Many of us have heard about the how the content of a message is as little as 7% of a communication, and how body language and tone of voice together make up the remaining 90%. What many of us don't consider is that a communication event rarely happens in a bubble where the only elements being considered are voice, physicality, and content. Normally, a communication event is pregnant with all those other interactions that preceded it. You know, the baggage. If you want to communicate better, you need to minimize emotional baggage so that each one of your communications comes through clean and clear."
He then explains that there are four aspects for a leader to consider when communicating. They are:Direction: Top down or bottom up? Fair? Bilateral for some but not others? The direction of your communications signals whether you are broadcasting or conversing. Frequency: Important things get repeated more often than non-important items. If you're not repeating yourself, you're not signaling the importance of the message. Content: The content of the message starts before the actual message. It starts with the context. Two people can deliver the exact same message to greatly different effects. Why? Because their messages are pregnant with different things. A good communicator understands how his/her message is being interpreted and massages the content according to the filter being applied to it. This isn't manipulation — it's more like adjusting the tint on a TV. Channel: You can say, "I want this to be a dialogue" all you want, but if you're disseminating the message through a recorded video on your company's intranet, then no one will believe you. Similarly, you may tell someone that you have some quick feedback for them on a project, but if instead of a quick e-mail, you put your notes into a formal memo and copy the VP, rest assured they will interpret your "feedback" as a formal reprimand and will feel sandbagged. The channel needs to match the intention.
Watch this video to see him talk about these aspects further.
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.