“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
From ballet to baseball, coding to construction, and even coloring to communication, everyone starts with a blank slate. World-renowned artists, athletes and leaders all started in the same place: learning the fundamentals, including how and when to apply them.
While often noted for the remarkable and extraordinary feats they achieve, those abilities squarely rest on a firm foundation. Success is often attributed to a team of people who teach, coach and skillfully guide a disciplined practice that includes goal setting, measurement, feedback, and the desire to reach for new heights.
Communication is like that, too. At least it can be.
Everyone is a communicator, engaging in thousands of communications daily across a myriad of devices, in a multitude of situations. And yet, communication generally occurs without thought.
A primal ability sometimes taken for granted, for many, communication “just is;” minimal, reflexive effort is often considered “good enough”. To the contrary, most surveys of employee engagement and organizational challenges list poor and ineffective communication as a top reason for disengagement and poor performance.
Right now it is important – arguably necessary – to reconsider communication and the role it plays in personal and professional success.
Investing time and energy into learning the principles of effective communication and how to best apply them holds a substantial immediate payoff with lasting and expanding benefits.
This is the beginning; more than a 10-part series to reconsider communication, this is the start of a journey to explore and improve from basic to the ability to effectively communicate value.
This is the first of the 10-part series on the need to reconsider communication and the role it plays in driving security success. This series puts communication myths to rest, lowers barriers to effectiveness and reframes the benefits of effectively communicating value.
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What does it mean to communicate?
Seems silly, right? After all, communication is part of the daily routine.
Yet we don’t often make the time to step back and ponder something as basic as communication.
In the simplest of definitions, communication is the sharing of information between parties; three required elements include the sender, a recipient and a message.
Common communication is instinctive, reflexive, and engaged in without awareness. For example, people tell stories at meetings and share examples with others to learn, to laugh and to persuade action. Lacking awareness, stories are not prepared, jokes are ‘off-the-cuff,’ and the examples shared tend to be spur-of-the-moment.
Sometimes the message connects, while other times it misses; sometimes, it misses BIG and creates a crisis that requires a lot of extra time, money and attention to address.
The demonstration of common communication includes an aptitude of skill; some people are quite effective – and funny – in spontaneous situations. Unfortunately, this skill and ability is often confused with effectiveness, leading to some myths to be dispelled in a post later this series.
Writing and speaking are popular forms of communication; however, music, dance, sculpture, art and others are successful and powerful methods to convey emotion and information.
Due to the unstructured nature of common communication, a premium is placed on real-time, face-to-face or other coordinated exchanges; it has to in order to correct for the high error rate. However, like a sign painted on a wall, a note left in a lunch box, or a message floating downriver in a bottle, communication can be fleeting or persistent, synchronous or asynchronous, and designed for one or many recipients.
Reaching mutual understanding is a challenge of common communication.
Progressing from communication to effective communication
Deliberate in purpose and in process, effective communication incorporates a feedback mechanism to ensure understanding of the message received matches the intent and purpose of the message sent.
Effective communication properly places the onus on the sender to correctly form and deliver the message. The effort invested into preparing, delivering and validating the message increases awareness and creates an opportunity to improve.
The effort invested into effective communication results in less misunderstanding and a more efficient overall use of time and resources.
Typically, effective communication is improved over time as a result of trial and error that leads to the experience necessary to distill key concepts and seek better ways to connect with the audience.
Progressing to effectively communicating value (ECV)
Effectively Communicating Value (ECV) is outcome-oriented; messages are designed and engineered according to models, methods and frameworks that allow measurement mapped to defined outcomes with adaptability in design and delivery.
By blending science with the principles of effective communication, ECV is both more precise (to the specific audience) and more flexible in terms of delivery mechanisms. The focus on measurement improves the feedback mechanism by incorporating a range of variables into a more comprehensive – and accurate – understanding of results.
With an increased focus on the practice and process to distill to value, ECV reduces communications errors and improves mutual understanding. This is an essential component to successfully helping individuals realize the consequences of their actions in the context of intention and impact, vital to bridge the Human Paradox Gap (HPG) [learn more here and in an upcoming series, or schedule time with Michael for a private briefing].
More than a single process, model or construct, ECV is actually an entire platform (or ecosystem) comprised of structure, substance and support. Called the ECVx Platform (effectively communicating the value of x – whatever we need), it provides the tools and guides implementation to ensure successful adoption of an improved way to communicate.
Exploring the value and use of a platform to guide ECV is the focus of the next series; it’s an exciting concept that lowers the barriers and solves the challenges the balance of this series explains.
Next, it is important to first dispel some myths about effective communication, starting with the notion that effective communication cannot be taught.
Engage and grow
Communication is essential; as this series continues, we can work together to explore the concepts, challenge conventional thinking. Engage directly by leaving comments, asking questions, challenging assertions, sharing information – using the comments below, through Twitter (@catalyst), Google+ or even schedule time to speak with me directly (no strings attached).