Ask lawyers, engineers, or systems analysts which creates the most frustration and failure—the technical part of their job or dealing with people? They’ll agree on the latter. Technical competence is a given or you couldn’t get past the gatekeepers and screeners. Communicating about that technical work is your basic business act. How well you do it gains attention and either earns you promotions or gets you the boot.
So how do you measure your success on that score? Consider the response you get. Are you having the desired effect on people? In other words, …
––Are you making them think, feel, or do something you want?
––What seems to be their impression of you?
––Do others try to dominate you, control you, or just ignore you?
––How easily do you connect with others online using Twitter or LinkedIn groups or other internal social media?
––Can you work effectively in groups?
––Does your team accomplish its goals with a minimum of clashes?
––Do you weigh others’ words and understand and evaluate their messages appropriately?
––Do you always feel that others give your ideas a fair hearing in meetings?
––Do your teleconferences clarify or convolute issues and people?
––Do you understand the subtleties of what people are saying?
––Can you read and listen clearly between the lines?
––How easily do you resolve conflict to everyone’s satisfaction and reach the desired goal?
Failure to communicate is the frustration of modern management, the dating scene, and the family dinner table. Over time, all human relationships depend on the sum total of these interactions stacked end to end.
World leaders create a crisis or alter world events as they and their supporters posture and persuade through their social media posts.Their communication skills and personal presence can end a meeting or start a movement with an apt phrase or an inappropriate shrug.
The workplace is no different. According to the latest crop of CEO surveys (from IBM, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Wyatt Watson), communication skills once again fall in the top three slots of most critical skills for leaders. The American Management Association also surveyed more than 2,000 senior managers in 2010 as part of their Critical Skills Survey. Respondents predicted that communication skills would be the top employee development priority for the immediate future, cited by 41 percent of the managers surveyed.
Now, more than ever, you have to
- Use a variety of media and formats to communicate your message
- Build rapport with globally diverse groups
- Establish your credibility and expertise in a larger context and be accountable to more people for results. That is, you can’t just focus on welding a widget or marketing a magnet and go home. You have to understand why that widget or magnet meets the customer’s needs and continually come up with ways to produce it better, faster, and cheaper—or the organization will be looking for somebody who can keep the big picture in mind.
Wherever you work and whatever you do, you have to be able to gather information, analyze it, summarize it, and present it so that others can digest it and use it for decision making.
What’s the payoff for better communication? Productivity, profitability, and personal satisfaction.
When it comes to communication and connection, the question isn’t, “Who needs to improve?” The question is, “Who doesn’t?”
Challenge Question: What’s a frequent communication issue that surfaces among your colleagues? What solutions have you tried?
Dianna Booher, an expert in executive communications, is the author of 45 books, published in 25 countries and 19 languages. Her latest books include Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader and Communicate with Confidence, Revised Edition. As CEO of Booher Consultants and as a high-caliber keynote speaker, Dianna and her staff travel worldwide to deliver focused speeches and training programs to address specific communication challenges and increase effectiveness in oral, written, interpersonal, and organizational communication. www.booher.com