Tempting though it is to talk about Brexit again, with some slightly positive news for business this week from the High Court judges, I am going to refrain, as some of you may be bored! Instead I am going to talk about communication.
It is very easy when leading a company to think that you have got a message across to your team. Heads nod, smiles appear, one or two may contribute along the same lines, …but many continue as if nothing has happened! As Sydney J. Harris said, “The two words ‘Information’ and ‘Communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.”
The easiest mistake to make in assuming you have communicated is to think, “well if someone said that in that way to me, I would understand it!” The trouble is that not everyone else is you. In fact, no-one else is you. Only you are you! And what people hear is entirely interpreted through where they are standing, their life experience and viewpoint and their understanding of the company they work for.
We went through an exercise recently at Cotswold Fayre where 10 people’s viewpoints on all departments was taken as a snapshot by an external person. He then put them all together in a document amalgamating people’s comments so you had no idea who said what. It was an interesting exercise and the second time we have done this. At some points, I wanted to shout out, “No, that’s not true at all”, but the truth was that it was true if someone thought it. Perception is reality. And where they think something different to what you know is reality, it means there has been some poor communication going on!
So, the best way of knowing whether you have got through to people is to ask them to tell back to you what you have just said in their own words, and to keep doing it, and keep doing it. Try it this week, it works!