We've been hearing from many of our clients and audiences that there is a lot of overcommunication happening in this new remote work era. We recently led a training for Council of Urban Professionals on this very topic and want to share some of what we discussed. Communication offers the greatest impact when you have a baseline understanding of how communication works. Ever played "telephone?" If you have, you may laugh remembering how messages get transformed from what was initially said to the last recipient of the message. Every time a message is shared, there is a sender and receiver. Just like in telephone, a lot can happen to transform how the message is received before it makes it from the initial sender to the end user, even in a simple two party communication. The "noise" in the middle that can transform how a message is received can include things like worldview, assumptions, technology and other filters that change the message from how it's intended to be received. Being aware of the noise that can change your message is key to crafting messages appropriately to combat that noise.
Below are a few tips to consider to ensure that your communications are effective and help you meet your communication goals:
Know your audience - Strong communication begins with an understanding of who will be receiving your message. Knowing your audience helps you plan your content / messaging to help them best receive it and make sense of what you are sharing. When planning consider the values, expectations, and (in smaller groups) the communication styles of those you'll be communicating with.
Share the "why" - Too often leaders share the how and the what when communicating their messages, but miss the opportunity to share the "why". This lets talent know what needs to be done, but lacks the essential need we have to understand the why to make sense of the actions we are asked to motivate around. Adding a why demonstrates empathy and is also more persuasive when trying to get listeners to take action.
Consistent messaging - Maintaining consistency creates a pattern and sets expectations for those you are communicating with. Consistent messaging includes consideration of platforms you're using, frequency of communication and tone. Being consistent helps audiences understand your style of communicating which gives them the ability to make better sense of how to receive your message.
Make feedback a part of your culture - One of the hardest messages to communicate can be critical feedback. However, feedback is a necessary part of developing your talent and creates business savings and efficiencies by developing talent to perform better. We previously shared a helpful method for delivering feedback. Now, make it a part of your culture by communicating regularly, without sugarcoating. Offer debriefs after large meetings and projects and immediately share developmental feedback to normalize the process of hearing feedback for your team.
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