The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
–George Bernard Shaw
Communication is the lifeblood of any good organization. With it, things run smoothly. Without it, it’s a constant struggle. Consider this humorous story I came across not long ago. It was about a man who lacked tact. He was the type of person who just couldn’t say anything graciously.
He and his wife owned a poodle. They loved this dog. It was the object of their affection. The wife was to take a trip abroad, and she made it to New York on the first day. She called home and asked her husband, “How are things?”
He said, “The dog’s dead!”
She was devastated. After collecting her thoughts, she asked, “Why do you do that? Why can’t you be more tactful?”
He said, “Well, what do you want me to say? The dog died.”
She said, “Well, you can give it to me in stages. For example, you could have said, ‘The dog went out on the roof.’ And then when I travel to London the next day and call, you could tell me, ‘Honey, the dog fell and had to be taken to the vet. In fact, he’s in the hospital, not doing well.’ And finally, when I call you from Rome, ‘Honey, brace yourself. Our dog died.’ I could handle that.”
The husband paused and said, “Oh, I see.”
Then she asked, “By the way, how’s Mother?”
He said, “She’s on the roof.”
Communication. How would you rate it in your organization? Is it good? Bad? Why is that? If it’s bad, is that a reflection of the culture at large or is it more random? Regardless of your answers, one thing is for certain – good communication matters.
As a leader, you want to make sure that your communication systems are working. It needs to be C.L.E.A.R.
C – Correct
It’s not enough that communication in your organization is taking place. ”The information that is flowing within and out of your organization needs to be accurate. Expediency serves no purpose if the information is wrong”. Make sure it’s correct. Nothing is more frustrating than inaccurate information being disseminated. It makes you look bad and frustrates the very people you are trying to serve.
L – Logical
A necessary ingredient to good communication is that it’s logical. Make sure that it serves a useful purpose and is beneficial to those who receive it. If the information you are trying to communicate is important enough to be distributed to those in your organization and beyond, then it’s important that it’s done right. Don’t put forth information that is irrelevant or hard to understand.
E – Essential
It’s one thing to communicate regularly, but how much of that communication is essential? ”How would a communication audit look for you and your organization? How much of what you communicate in a meeting could have been handled in an email?” How do you recoup that lost time in productivity? What about those unnecessary emails that clutter up the inbox? Good communication is necessary but make sure that what you are communicating is essential. Don’t waste people’s time with the trivial.
A – Accessible
Information that your people need should be accessible through good communication channels. Make sure that people who are supposed to be in the loop are in the loop. Don’t make access to information difficult or make assumptions that it’s been received. ”Nothing will frustrate your people more than being in the dark on matters that they should know about. Be intentional with your communication and make it accessible.”
R – Regular
Good communication within your organization should be regular. In other words, good communication practices should be a part of the routine of your organization. It’s dependable, it’s reliable, it’s accurate, and you’ve built a reputation upon it. Avoid the pitfalls of poor communication and poor morale by good communication a priority. Too much is at stake not to.