As a leader, does you ability to communicate with the people who work for you get you what you need? Does it get them what they need? I often find myself working with highly successful people mired in frustration that’s caused by miscommunication. Though we can see ourselves as brilliantly clear communicators, missed deadlines and slipping timelines due to communication difficulties are hard to ignore. How often have you found yourself thinking, “I was really clear about this. I told them exactly where we have to go, what means will take us there, and the date by which we have to get it done, and they didn’t follow through.” Let’s admit there’s a chance your communication was excellent, and the person tasked with executing simply didn’t follow through. As least as often, there’s a good chance the person on the receiving end of your communication, the person you and others are depending on, didn’t get the message. That’s right; the same message you saw as being crystal clear, and expertly delivered.
The message you delivered might have been clear as far as it went, but if the result was less than you desired, there’s a good chance some crucial factor was left unsaid. When something seems obvious to us, we tend to assume it will be equally obvious to others, and so we move into an unintentional form of verbal shorthand. In other words, we leave blank spaces, expecting the person listening to us to fill in the blank spaces exactly as we would have.
When I take a client through the exercise of exposing these blank spaces, almost invariably, he or she is able to understand how the communication that seemed so clear and obvious could have been misunderstood.
Understand this: if people aren’t receiving the information you’re giving them in the context you intended, it isn’t their responsibility to hear more, it’s your responsibility to give it to them differently, or more completely.