Wednesday, February 6, 2013
My take on improving your communication in 330 words
I googled ‘communication’: 224 million results in 0.23 seconds. Numerous scholarly and non-scholarly articles, so here’s my brief take on communication in under 330 words:
I can talk, write, and coach all I want, communication is about two things:
It’s as simple as that. As Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman write in an HBR Blog Network Post called How Poor Leaders Become Good Leaders: “Communication skills are highly malleable … improvement here was less about learning new skills than about using the skills they already had more often and with more people.”
This hits my take on how to improve your communication. There are three parts to it:
1. Believe me. You have to improve and you can improve.
2. Increase your awareness of how your communication is being perceived and received (as opposed to how you intended it, or to how you think others receive it). 360 Feedback is one of your tools, but the conversation about the feedback you receive is what matters most.
3. Practice, practice, practice the skills that you use in some areas, and not or too little in other situations. We all know how to really listen, if only in conversations that really get our attention. Now it’s time to deliberately and intentionally make it a concerted habit (not effort, I often don’t like efforts – too easy, too much excuse-prone) to listen in every situation. Your improvement might be in other areas: If you need to speak more plainly about complex matter, take your conversation with a 5 year old as a model. If you need to be more candid in your feedback, take your courageous conversation with a dear friend as an example. The skills are there, most of them are anyway. You and I often just do a bad job transferring them to a variety of situations. I know, the situations and stakes are different, but remember, the skills remains the same. The question is just: Do you take it, do you take yourself, do you take your audience seriously?
Wishing you plenty of practice and healthy habit forming.