Communication has got to be one of the most emphasized and underdeveloped work and leadership skills. How many times have I heard or said, “you need to communicate better”? If its so important, why do we struggle to get it right?
Mid-way through my career, communicating effectively as a leader, is a skill I work on daily. I spend a lot of effort un-learning what I thought good communication to be usually through trial and lots of errors. I’ve written emails that I thought were perfectly fine but received angry responses in return. I’ve had conversations with employees and the employee quit by the end of it. I’ve posted things social media that didn’t sit well with our audience.
By definition, communication is simply the exchange of information between individuals. Effective communication, however, is a much more complicated phenomena and fraught with land mines where it can blow up in your face. In my experience, communication has gone wrong for me because I believed that the goal was to impart information to another person and make sure they understand what ever that information may be. When in fact, there is really just one goal, for every kind of communication: to build trust.
Who are you most likely to take advice from? – A friend you trust. What advertisements convince you to buy a product or service? – Those that come from a company or brand you trust. When do you best receive feedback in your work? – When it comes from a manager you trust.
Effective communication starts with a genuine mindset shift that when we are exchanging information, we are also open and genuinely receiving what is coming from the other. When the other person, or your target audience believes in our authenticity, trust begins to form. There are practices that support this trust building.
Rachel Vandenberg is a leadership coach living in Stowe, Vermont with her husband and three children. Rachel also owns and operates a hotel and attractions property with her family. She sits on the board of the local tourism association and also created a leadership retreat for women leaders in travel.