The Importance of Communication

When we communicate we tend to create a certain impression so think about the saying “to see ourselves as others see us”, as we often don't realise how we seem to others.

For example
...Do you speak a lot or listen a lot?
...Do you just identify problems or do you solve them?
...Do you look for agreement or do you stir the pot?
...Do you often judge or seek to learn?
...Do you see yourself as a learner or an expert?

Be brave and ask colleagues and friends for three words that describe the way you present yourself but beware as although they may not be the answers you want they are a major part of your personal brand, of how people see you. Does this describe the person you want to be seen as and if not, what are you going to do about it?


What is personal branding?

Personal branding is all about you and how you operate. It’s about who you are, your values, beliefs, skills, experience, and behaviours. It’s what you leave behind when you walk out of a room – what people say about you when you are not there. In other words, personal branding is what makes you unique.

The most effective communicators share more than just information; they also convey a feeling. When we meet others, they usually remember more about how you made them feel, than what you had to say so what feelings do you leave people with?

Better question... What feelings do you want to leave people with?

For the next few days reflect on the feelings you think you generated in others, and maybe even go and ask them afterwards to find out if you are right.

How could you change the way you communicate so you convey more feeling?

Teams becoming ‘real’ teams

A real team is one where the members are more bound to a common purpose and share a sense of identity. They genuinely work together to address cross-boundary and complex issues, and together agree priorities and implementation plans. And they hold each other mutually accountable for results. They benefit tremendously from communicating effectively. The more stakeholders and interfaces involved and the more complex the issues, the greater the need for the group to act as a true team so I challenge you to think about your stakeholders – who are they?


Management teams

It is not surprising that in many organisations there is a collection of functional experts (sales, purchasing, HR, marketing and so on) at senior levels who are used to being in the mode of ‘knower’. When they make it to the top table, they find they now need to work collaboratively together to pool their views on strategy.  Rather than ‘knowing’ (there is no right or wrong answer to the big strategic questions), formulation of strategy requires that the leader harnesses the collective wisdom of the top team.

Management groups that think together and communicate become management teams.

Many of us have experienced the negative effects of poor communication in the workplace. When information is transferred insufficiently or inaccurately, workplace productivity goes down. In the worst cases, crucial tasks do not get done and goals are not met.

The good news is that the opposite is also true. Good workplace communication can have positive effects on performance including increased productivity, higher employee morale, repeat business, improved employee retention, and a healthier work environment overall.

There are many factors that have both a positive and negative impact so that same thorny question - what is good communication?


What is Good Workplace Communication?

At its most basic level, communication is defined as the transfer of information from a sender to a receiver.  Eliminating “noise”, reaching mutual understanding, and “feeding back” are all essential to good communication.

“Noise” is any interference that negatively impacts the information that is being sent or received. Noise in a simple workplace conversation may be literal noise (such as the sound of loud equipment) that causes one person to miss part of what the other is saying because they can’t hear. It can also be something subtle, such as when the listener doesn’t entirely hear the other person because they’re distracted by their own thoughts.  Good listening is essential to effective communication!

Mutual understanding is achieved when the receiver “hears” precisely what the sender has set out to convey. Feeding back helps to ensure that this understanding has, in fact, been achieved.   Feeding back can originate with either the speaker or the receiver.  For instance, a receiver can restate the message (“This is what I heard you say…”), or the sender can ask the receiver pertinent questions to ensure they’ve understood (“Just so we’re clear…you will have the report to me by 2:00pm tomorrow, correct?”)

Good workplace communication happens when the final results of the communication are positive. People thrive on information. On the receiving side of things, individuals are happier and more productive when they’ve been told exactly what is expected of them.  On the sending side, the ability to effectively convey your thoughts to others is paramount to success.  People who don’t communicate well suffer the consequences of having work done incorrectly and having employees or co-workers who are continually frustrated.

Daniel Brunton