In a world full of communication options, we become less sensitive to the communication itself. Our century is the one with the fastest growing technologies. We have countless opportunities to communicate. But somehow, even using these options full time, part of our messages remains non-understandable for the ones around us. This statement is extremely valid for the leaders in modern companies. According to a global survey about communication conducted in 2018 by the American Psychology Association, 41% of all messages shared cannot be understood by the recipients. The same study also points to the negative impact of non-understandable communication in the companies and how it impacts turnover and retention rates.
Leaders today face a significant challenge in communicating in a multicultural environment and delivering the messages they need to a broad audience. And the process is going increasingly complex with every year, month, and even week. But the culture of the company needs communication. We need to understand the values, acting approaches, etc., to be able to deliver results. The challenging task here is for the leadership teams, who still struggle to find the course to guarantee success during communication crucial for the company objectives.
Objectives make leaders think about creating this magical formula increasingly where everyone understands the message and results are growing smoothly every day.
If you want to read about the magic formula below, you are not in the right place. I do not understand magic and do not think it is why we finish our work successfully. But what you will find below are five simple rules I have implemented in my and some 60 other leaders, who created actual results in the communication process. Here they are:
Have you tried to communicate in a multicultural environment to see that there is no conventional way of communicating and everyone relies on its understanding of communication? Here is where the role of the leader must evolve. The leader must set the standard for what and how to be communicated, according to the situation. If you are part of a Senior Leadership Team meeting, do not use jargon, or if you talk about someone else, you do not have the right to qualify behavior and personality based only on your position. The standard ensures that people will get the most precise information about a situation, tasks, etc., without having many personal interpretation options or putting some words that can cause trouble and conflict while misunderstood.
To have productive communication, the leader must list accepted terminology. Imagine you are an IT person who speaks to an accountant. You talk about networks, computer programming, etc., using the terms that the professionals in your field usually use. But do you know what the accountant will hear? It will be something like that: Do not understand, do not understand, do not understand, switch to understand lightly. Lovely, isn’t it? The leader’s role in defining the terminology and providing, if needed, clarification about terms that may be used in the communication but are not known from the larger audience of listeners. That improvised “dictionary” will strengthen the understanding between the parties involved in the touch and boost internal understanding and acceptance of the communication shared.
Focus on clarity
A notable example of non0clear communication is politicians. Many words are said, and still, after the whole message is delivered, people feel like they have not heard anything useful. A leader’s job is to ensure there is as much clarity in the communication as possible. Some of the communication standards set must be how expressing a message to a large auditorium can be easily understood. Clarity of the message saves communicators from investing additional efforts in explanation and creates comfort around the arena. That is why the leader who wants to achieve results must save time by formulating a clear message In the understandable language from the people hearing the message and delivering it without any additional elements that can cause difficulties in understanding and accepting the message.
Use technology intentionally
Surrounded by so many technologies, we often try to transfer responsibility about delivering messages to it. The most common mistake is the use of PowerPoint. There is so much written on the topic, and still, even a leader with experience in presenting information makes the apparent mistake of writing the whole message on the slides and project it. If the leader wants to deliver a meaningful message, technology helps only support the communication process but not replace it. The written text is a powerful presentation, but it lacks one element, the understanding of those who must hear or read it. While using technology, we make communication a one-way street and limit the possible questions about information shared. That often leads to what is called “a communication echo” – you hear something, you are not 100% sure what you have listened to, so you use your internal attitude and understandings on the topic to formulate the whole message. If the leader or the communicator wants to minimize this negative effect on the communication, they must focus on using the technology only as a supportive tool but still be the source of information for the whole group.
Go beyond words
The last issue with communication comes from the element of trust. We tend to trust those whom we feel are honest and open to us. The communicator must be ready to show others that they are sincere and think and feel what is said. If the auditorium feels that there is no match between words coming from the mouth and the body language, or the history of the speaker’s behavior, then there is no reason for them to believe the stories. Many people try to deliver a message who does not understand that. I have once had a senior leader who had to speak about values in our company. The lady was good at delivering messages, but there was one small issue. During the previous ten months, she did some things that were anything but not in line with the company values. On the day she had to present the information, she stood in front of an auditorium and started talking. Guess what. 50% of the people in the room were actively not listening, and the other 50% tried to listen as little as possible. After her, I had to stand in front of the same auditorium. When I started delivering my message, all the people stand still. My time was less than 10 minutes, but discussion about it happened during the entire day. That is why the communicator must go beyond the words. People need to feel that what the communicator is talking about is something they believe in and expresses that belief with the body language and actions from everyday life.
Many speakers, teachers, trainers, etc., do when they teach people how to communicate, deliver their experience and offer it a learning opportunity. But if a person, no matter, position, rank or beliefs, leadership level, etc., wants to become a better communicator, delivering powerful and insightful messages that generate passion in others, he or she must walk his way. The five rules above are universal and can be adapted to every person who seeks change in communication skills, but the content they can be filled with depends on the person, his level of internal growth, and his environment. Want to try these five rules for you – then take them and fill them with content from your domain to succeed.