‘Better communication’ is possibly the most overused phrase in business. And probably the #1 most desired outcome. How to do it? The answers fill thousands of books and websites, but here’s a new rule for communication that just might be an answer for you:
The person initiating the communication is responsible for the communication.
This is about style, not content. This is about what you can do to successfully communicate your message to the person receiving it. When you are the initiator you own the way in which a communication gets started. It’s about the sender and receiver, and this is about the communications where you are the sender.
This new way of thinking requires a new behavior. One where you take a little more time to plan your communication. And if you think that this sounds too tedious, I suggest that a pattern of unsuccessful communications is even more tedious.
When Hector talks to Blanche to about a new sales idea first he plans the content and then he plans for Blanche’s communication style. How does she like to receive information or new ideas? Does she like to hear the whole story or just the facts? Does she make quick decisions or will she want time to digest a new proposal? Think sender and receiver.
When better communication is the goal, rank doesn’t matter. So, when the Big Cheese talks to the sales manager about a new way to close business, the Cheese should mull over what he knows about the sales manager’s communication style. And offer his communication for the best possible reception. Think sender and receiver.
For some, this is radical thinking. For some, rank matters more. For most, however, being outranked is not a magic key to better communication. The reason for the Big Cheese or any manager to do it this way is because it works. Think sender and receiver.
Try this: the management team meets to discuss each one’s preference for communication. Think sender and receiver. Each person makes two lists about him/herself:
1. How I usually send my communication. Make it specific such as concepts v. details or fast v. slow.
2. How I like to receive communication. Facts v. story or directives v. options.
Discuss these preferences as a team. Ask questions. Get specific. Practice a little. Write each person’s preferences on some index cards and everyone gets a set. Laminate them. And use them.
Think sender and receiver. If you initiate it, you own it.