One of the most challenging aspects of running an organization that has many members is finding a way to effectively communicate to all of them and get them to communicate with one another. Effective communication is more than just sending along a message or information: it is making sure that your message has meaning and relevance to each individual or group that receives it so that they can act on it appropriately. Developing and enhancing your ability to communicate and your understanding of what makes a message most effective is key to your success as a leader. You can improve your own ability to orchestrate operations across teams of many roles and levels by following these 4 habits of communication professionals.
Whether your communications are internal or are aimed at those outside of the organization, communications professionals maintain that authenticity is key. You’ve seen examples for in media appearances by sweating CEOs, and have probably experienced it for yourself in a number of personal interactions — you can tell when somebody is trying to sell you something versus being forthright and honest. Even if what you are saying is absolutely true, if it comes across as a type of propaganda your audience is going to automatically doubt your integrity and look for a hidden agenda instead of tuning in to the message. Being authentic has a lot of important pieces to it. It means not talking in corporate speak but instead communicating via an open dialogue that feels personal and engaging. It means making a point of being simple, concise and specific. The more clear and detailed your message is (without getting into the superfluous), the more people will trust it. And finally, leave your ego out of it. Good communicators rarely talk about themselves. Instead they talk about the needs and goals of the people to whom they are speaking.
Know your audience.
Developing an awareness of your audience’s aspirations and emotions allows you to speak directly to them rather than to your own interests and agenda. The more you are aware of the mood and dynamics of your audience, the more you can target your message so that it will speak to what they want to listen to and actually hear. This includes taking into account the opinions and feelings of those who may not necessarily agree with you. This is not to say that you need to change your position or theirs, but that the more you understand and exhibit your empathy, the more you are likely to be able to communicate well with people who hold opposing views. Communication should always be a dialogue in order to be effective, and that means that it is just as important to know when to talk as to know when to be quiet and listen.
Know what you’re talking about or let somebody else who does know do the talking.
One of the best ways to lose the respect and attention of anybody that you are trying to engage is to exhibit your lack of command of your subject. You’ve seen politicians do it, you’ve listened to people at cocktail parties wax eloquent on topics that they clearly know nothing about – don’t be guilty of doing the same thing within your organization. You will immediately lose all credibility the moment you start to force yourself into the position of being an authority on something you know nothing about. Either take the time to truly learn and develop your understanding of a topic or else find the appropriate person within your organization to speak to a subject and cede the floor to them.
Use the right medium, and use it regularly.
Today we have so many different methods of communicating available to us, and it’s easy to fall into the habit of choosing your favorite and using it constantly, even where it isn’t appropriate or may be counter-productive or a waste of time. Think about the message and its goal and choose the best way to communicate it that will work for everybody. Sometimes it is best to utilize a team meeting where everybody can come together and share ideas or provide feedback. Sometimes an email or newsletter will prove most effective. Suit the medium to the message, as well as to the particular group that you are trying to reach and you will find that people appreciate your respect of their time. It’s also important to remember that constant communication enables the message to remain the focus, as well as to provide updates. Nothing can be more frustrating to individual departments then having been brought into a project and then having no idea how other departments are faring or what the current status is.