Peter Drucker—The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.
Do people hear what you’re saying? Do they understand? Do you really even know? Are you sure?
It’s easy for me to have a very clear idea of what I want to get done in my head. I see the process and the output. A lot goes on in my head that never comes out quite right.
No matter how hard I try to clarify my ideas, I find that if I don’t give context and check in with others, that I miss the mark. I do better when I can see them or hear their voice—this gives me clues that I’m not where I need to be yet…. So I keep pushing. I think we would all agree that it is important to make sure there is a common shared understanding of work ahead for a successful outcome.
I worked with one client who gave me an outline and deliverables of what she wanted as well as key deadlines. I was impressed with her organization and clarity and thought, “Wow- this was going to be straightforward.”
After my first or second check in with her, I noticed that she wasn’t blown over by my fast and robust delivery of the work. Mulling it over, and having it eat away at me (because who doesn’t like some praise), I went back and clarified her expectations again. Yes, I had it right. But then the light bulb went off and I stopped in my tracks. “Other than this explicit work, what are the other more private outcomes you want me to get done?” BINGO! She smiled and explained that she wanted me to do “all that people stuff” along the way: who is okay, who needs help, and who’s in the wrong position. “Help me build the right team going forward. Do your Jane thing.” We had worked together before and now I knew exactly what she wanted me to do. I was only doing a fraction of the job the first time around. Needless to say, the rest is history (and I got some of my desired positive reinforcement along the way).
Sometimes the message we’re conveying isn’t what’s being heard. As both the conveyor and the receiver, we need to make sure we understand. Explain what you’re not looking for; repeat the message using different words; check frequently for understanding; watch body language and voice inflections. Keep probing until you’re sure you’re there, and then go a little bit further for good measure.
We begin our engagements by spending time on seeking clarity of purpose. It allows us to make sure we’re all using our time to your advantage. Let us help you!