The Art of Communication

the art of communicationCommunication is a core skill for success in business. We rely on this skill to clearly express our intentions to our staff, and we depend upon the communication skills of our team members when they interact with clients and prospects.  Effectiveness in all types of business communication is integral for any business to grow and flourish.

It’s a Two-Way Street

Communication is a two-way street.  It requires two individuals who are open to receive information and dialogue with each other. There is a delivery of the message and someone on the other end receiving it. Without an active and open receiver, there is no real communication.

This is why the “command and control” model of management has never really worked.  In moments of frustration, I often hear leaders express, “I thought that I made myself perfectly clear.”  However, it is not enough to simply share your thoughts; you also need to encourage dialogue and clarifying questions from the recipient, especially if it is a subordinate on your team. You need to be sure that the recipient has not only heard the words you have said, but also that he or she truly understands what you are asking for.  This is the essence of effective communication.

The Cause of Poor Communication

As a coach, I spend a great deal of my time listening to and facilitating conversations among team members.  For me, it seems so easy to listen to and interpret the messages that people are relaying to each other. I am a trained and objective observer shadowing conversations between two individuals. But, for some reason, they often do not hear one another clearly. What really causes this?

The simple answer is that the team members in question are not actively listening to each other. They are distracted by other things, both internal and external.  We live in a world where multitasking is the norm and so few of us have developed the ability to stop, be present, and focus on what is right in front of us at the moment.

Communication Tips for Busy Leaders

Actively listening to others is hard work!  Here are a few practical tips for busy leaders on improving communication skills:

  • When communicating with staff, especially about an important assignment, be sure to have your team member re-state his or her understanding of the task and encourage follow-on questions and discussion.  This subsequent interaction assures you that they have heard and understood what you are asking for.
  • When you are approached by a client, prospect, or subordinate, take a moment to stop, breathe, and focus on this person and what he or she is saying. Be ready to hear and understand the communicator.  This only takes a moment, yet it has a tremendous impact on those with whom you interact, and assures that effective communication can take place.

“It is the recipient who communicates.  Unless there is someone who hears, there is no communication.”  –  Peter Drucker