Do you know what you're saying?
Recently I worked with a team whose leader was incomprehensible. My experience with them and others like them leads me to wonder how often we use words like a sledgehammer when a simple tap will do.
I couldn't understand a thing she said.
Mind you, I'm no Einstein, but communication skills have never been a weakness: I usually know what I'm saying, and what you're saying. Disagreeing with your point of view is not misunderstanding it. But in this scenario I was lost.
Simple phrases were overwrought, unlike words were used interchangeably and definitive answers were never given.
It was really tortuous to be in conversation with or attempt to understand an email from the leader. Even the plainest things were muddled so much with excessive language and phrasing I often couldn't tell what she said, and soon autosent her notes to the trash so as not to confuse me.
I stopped listening.
Do you do this?
Are you so in love with your trade you drop “inside” jargon in place of plain speaking? Do you take the long way around to avoid a simple yes and no? Or waffle and equivocate so much in answering people its hard to pin you down?
Then you, my friend, need some help.
Here then a primer on how to be an effective leader in communications.
- Be direct. Yes and no are fine answers much preferred to vagueness.
- Use the right words. OD and T&D are not synonymous. Accept is not except. Strategy and tactics are two different things. Don't insult your listener by using words indiscriminately: it shows you don't care.
- Less is more. Why say five words when two will do. Use speech and the written word economically.
- Drop the jargon. Your customer doesn't care that you have an incredibly dense work language, they want results. Don't make them strain to understand you, make them love to interact with you.
- Talk instead of write, listen instead of talk. If your sense of communication is writing email after email then you are confused about communication. And you are confusing others.
- Keep quiet. A good conversation is one in which you are listening more than speaking. Stop being so in love with the sound of your own voice. Get over yourself.
There is hope.
Study after study continues to show that communication skills – language chief among them – are increasingly important in an ever-more connected word. This stuff counts.
The quickest way to improve written and spoken communications is by increasing your reading: pick up a book (real or virtual) today. Leaders read. You can too.
Know what you're saying, and say it in a manner so we may understand it too.