This tip comes from a frustrated CEO we are working with. He believes that he’s clearly communicated the vision and direction of the company. His employees see things differently.
We’ve been having culture conversations with the employees and we have uncovered three myths that apply to all communication.
Myth 1 – If I tell them, then I’ve communicated. Telling (the message) is only half the communication equation. The other half is listening (getting feedback) from the receiver to ensure that the message had the intended impact. The CEO, hasn’t made the time to ask what employees are hearing when he communicates strategy. What they’ve told me is that they are confused, the message is fragmented and that the constant changes aren’t really a strategy. When you share an important message, do you make the time to get feedback?
Myth 2 – What I say is what people hear. Your communication intention may be different from the impact that your words have. A favorite example is an old Zig Ziglar story about the difference between “your face broke the clock” and “your face made time stand still.” There are things that people say that are completely misunderstood because there is a lack of shared context. Rather than craft a message around what you want to say, start with the impact that you want to achieve. The impact you want ot have should determine the message.
Myth 3 – More is better. More meetings, more emails or more conversations are not the answer to better communication. There is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. You can do both when you start with considering the receiver. What will help them understand the message as quickly as possible? What channel (telephone, email, face to face conversation) and what words will achieve the outcome as quickly as possible?
Bust these myths by recognizing that communication involves a sender and a receiver who have a shared context. The sender makes sure that the receiver is impacted in the way that they intended. That results in real communication.
We are working to ensure a happy ending for the CEO. He is a brilliant man with a vision that needs to be clearly and effectively communicated.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~ George Bernard Shaw, recipient of the 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature