More Shorts in the Communication Circuit
Just when you thought you had this communication system thing all figured out, along comes more wires of misunderstanding to jumble up your fuse box. We’ve all, no doubt, been plugged into many of the basics of communication such as:
- Words, tone, and language
- The sender sends a message and the receiver must decode and interpret it
- We lose understanding via mechanical devices
- Levels of listening
- Barriers to communication
Just when you thought it was safe to have a conversation, two new studies tell us we still need to bring our communication efforts up a decibel or two. First is a study by Boyle, D.M., Mahoney, D.P., Carpenter, BW., and Grambo, R.J. This study conveys the shocking news that communication is not just for conversation any more. Now, it appears, that communication can aid in your career advancement – or not. The authors posit that communication skills encompass interpersonal skills and that these two skills are “[are] essential to a smooth career progression.” The study goes even further to suggest that both workers and the firm share an obligation to pursue training these areas.
The study gives fair warning to career newbies that texting and e-mail can be viewed as “inappropriate or inadequate” even at the staff level. When you realize that many complex business issues require face-to-face communication, switching from their insulated communication system may be a shock hazard for some young people.
While career newbies may experience shock, according to a study by Shimizu, K., electrifying news awaits those at the top. If your strategic plans are on life support, it may be that there was a poor connection in your communication efforts. You and your Board agree on a plan. You convey that plan to the Executive Team. The Executive Team conveys it to the Directors. The Directors convey it to their Managers. Finally, the Managers convey it to the Staff. Everyone’s on board, on the same page, striving for the same goals, and implanting your plan, right? Not so fast sparky. Here are a couple of fuses that might be loose.
- Do you remember the childhood game of gossip? The results don’t change just because you’ve become an executive and the others participants are all grown up. I dare say the front receptionist probably never received your strategic message, much less got the opportunity to distort it. To help ensure that your message makes the trek accurately:
- The vision message must contain a clear vision and direction
- Be aware of your own bias toward the quality of your message. You may think you sent a high quality message. Others may have a disconnect. You may think you sent the message 17 times, when it was only three times.
- Pay attention to the way you send your message
- Organizational communication is often dry, analytical, and formal. No spark. No sizzle. Sending your message in a story format can bring life to your message and have a lasting impression on the receiver. The study suggests: “[using] tempered (speech designed to stimulate interest or grand (designed to provoke emotion and move an audience to a new positon.”
- Moving your staff to a “new position” is the arc of your message. However, the further the change is from the status quo, the more difficult to jolt people out of their complacency. Therefore, it is obvious that the message medium and the flavor of it needs to pack some punch.
Communication at its most effective is old fashioned. In our technical, no human contact if at all possible world, you might get a flashover to find that the most effective communication falls into this ranking order:
- Personal Documents
- Impersonal Documents
- Numeric Documents
Email is ranked between the telephone and personal documents, so clearly not the most effective and this is particularly true for important messages. In fact, the study states, “…overall organizational communication declines as the use of email increases.” Don’t get zapped by allowing shortages in your communication circuit. Delivering your vison clearly shouldn’t be a circuit breaker in your organization.
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