Communication and Clarity

Productive communication is critical in every organization. Some of the essential aspects of communication include: listening, building trust in relationships, being honest in every interaction, and dealing with conflict effectively. Great team communication must be engaging, motivating and authentic. It must help the team to see the path and the destination.

The larger the organization, the geometrically more complex communication becomes. With one-on-one communication, we can watch body language, hear tone of voice and create an immediate feedback loop. With 1,000 people, it becomes more of a marketing challenge.  It is necessary to use different tools as you move from influencing and coaching one person to a team of three, to a team of 10, 30, 100, 1,000+ and 1,000+ globally.

While there are many characteristics of great communicators, here are five keys:

Tell a story. Not necessarily a long story, but one that makes your interaction with that person or group of people different than every other meeting they sit through. Injecting emotion and relaying how something made you feel or how you make them feel is powerful to your audience. The use of stories tied to a current situation or project provides context and perspective. For example, when your team is excited about a new project but frustrated by a longer than expected timeline, remind them of the tortoise and the hare fable.

Always clarify. Sometimes a statement is simply that: a statement. Other times, you may need to dig deeper to understand the logic or assumptions being made by the other person. They may have misunderstood your question or thought you meant something else. Great communication is about listening as well as talking. Reflecting back is another strategy:

  • “I can see why that makes sense.” (even if you do not agree)
  • “I understand how what I said might make you feel that.” (even if what you said was true)
  • “Let me suggest another way of looking at this.” (if there is another approach)
  • “I wonder if there is a possibility of taking another approach.” (when they need to make it their own)

Build trust early and often. Think about and show care for others when you communicate. Be honest about bad news if it must be delivered and give all the facts without sugarcoating anything. Say what you mean, mean what you say. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Be clear about your expectations at the end of the interaction and restate what everyone agreed to and the next steps.

Some examples of do’s and don’ts to build trust:

  • Don’t say, “You make a mistake in your calculations.” Say, “Our figures do not seem to agree. Let’s work this out together.”
  • Don’t say, “You did not get the job done on time.” Say, “It is important to me that the job gets done on time. Can I have your commitment to making it happen? Do I have your word?”

Every day ask:

  • Who needs to know?
  • What do they need to know?
  • How can we share that knowledge?
  • When and where should we share the knowledge?

Choose the right mechanism for what you need to deliver.

  • For factual content, general information, sharing static information – use email or written notices. Everyone can read, so don’t waste time having a meeting to report “data”.
  • For emotional content, conflict resolution, relationship building – talk by phone or be face to face to get the full impact of body language in addition to tone of voice and pace of conversation.

To assess communication effectiveness of your leaders, contact us at 800-786-4332 for an assessment that covers the key areas outlined above. We also offer culture assessments to get feedback from your entire organization that includes recommendations for implementation – to hear more, email




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