Author: Curtis O. Fletcher
We live in an era of rapid innovation and rampant information. Whether we’re talking about a multi-billion dollar corporation or a mail order t-shirt company ALL of these organization started from the same place: an idea.
So then it would stand to reason that I am about to contend that your most important corporate competency has something to do with creativity, right? The ability to innovate and out-think the competition, be agile, be nimble in the market? While I am a HUGE fan of all those skills there is one competency that trumps them all: the ability to communicate.
It does not matter a lick how good, or creative, or revolutionary your idea is if you can’t communicate it to someone else in a way that they understand it and recognize how it might meet a need.
My contention is that most organizations don’t know the difference between messaging and communication.
By way of proof I offer a few simple questions:
- How many meetings have you attended in the past month that were either mostly or entirely a waste of time?
- How many emails do you have saved “just in case” you need something from them later? You know those FYI emails.
- How many work conversations have you had in the past two weeks that ended with either scheduling, or admitting the need for, a “follow up” conversation?
The billions of dollars that are wasted annually in lost productivity because we’re in meetings that accomplish nothing, interrupted by emails that are merely FYIs, or caught in conversational rat holes, all come down to a lack of concise communication.
So what are the hallmarks of good communication?
Allow me to suggest three:
1. All good communication has a clear purpose
I confess that FYI emails are a pet peeve of mine. They have no clear purpose other than: I think you might want to know this…maybe. Which really isn’t clear at all. But meetings that are purposed to “discuss” are just as bad.
At the SCORRE™ Conference we teach that ALL communication can be captured under one of two purposes: you’re either convincing someone or you’re training them. You are either telling them why we should, or how we can.
If you’re just passing along information, you’re clogging the lines. Connect it to one of those two purposes, because if I ask you WHY you’re passing along the information eventually you’ll land in one of them.
2. All good communication has a clear structure
If there are only two purposes from which to choose it stands to reason there would only be two structures from which to choose as well. In the very simplest form they look like this:
- We should do X for the following reasons.
- We can do Y by taking these steps.
These are the simplest versions of the forms. We’ll teach you more about them at SCORRE™ but your challenge is to fit ALL of your communication into one of these two forms AND, if you think you have something that doesn’t fit, share it. We’ll show you how it does.
3. All good communication has a delivered promise
As a quick example let’s use the meeting, which has as a stated purpose, “to discuss”. THAT is nearly always going to be a conversation that leads to no decisions and is considered both a time killer and a resource burn because at the end of it, you did discuss, but probably left the door open for further discussion. If, instead, you force yourself into one of our forms: “We CAN decide X by taking these steps.” You have promised:
- A decision will be reached
- Defined steps will be followed to reach it
- You have a clear goal in mind
At the end of the meeting you’ll know if you delivered on your promises. If you didn’t then the problem may be that you promised too much and you’ll learn how to construct a tighter promise for the next time.
If you want to develop competency in communication you need to start from a solid foundation. SCORRE™ is that foundation.
Do you have something you believe just does NOT fit in the structure? We do love a good challenge so please, if you have an example, submit it in the comments below. We’ll help you work through the thought process for getting it to fit and show you how that fit results in clearer communication. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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After more than 20 years training people how to become clearer, more effective communicators Curtis is often shocked at how poorly most corporations, and people in meetings in those corporations, communicate. He is currently working on a book to expound on how companies can develop corporate competency at communicating because 700 words is just too short to do the topic justice.