The Not-So-Subtle Art of Communication
To listen is an art and another essential life skill we fail to teach our young people. I am convinced that it is almost impossible to overstate the importance of listening as a life skill. Recently, a high school student asked me, “If you were me, what two skills would you work on improving?” I told him, “Decision-making and listening.” These two skills intersect with every single aspect of life and business.
As we set out to communicate your Strategic Plan to the organization, it is essential to keep in mind the importance of listening, and to remember that people in general are not great listeners. You have something very important—your organization’s Strategic Plan—that you need to communicate very clearly to your team or employees. The reality is that communicating a Strategic Plan in most organizations is like a huge game of Chinese Whispers. The point is—it is incredibly difficult to convey a message to a group of people. In fact, it usually requires a strategy of its own. The solution is overcommunication. One of my goals as a keynote speaker is for people to be able to remember a year later what I spoke about. Who was your keynote speaker at last year’s event? Most people struggle to remember who the speaker was, let alone what he or she spoke about. Repetition is your best friend when it comes to overcommunication. The truth is, most people are too proud to use this tool. But it works. We know this in our businesses. When it comes to branding and marketing, repetition is essential; failing to use it would guarantee failure. In fact, even in our marketing efforts most organizations change the message too often, because they lack the discipline to wait. We can’t wait to change the message. It takes real discipline and humility to stick to one message and overcommunicate that message. A marketing message will seem stale to a marketing team long before that same message has reached deep into its target market, and an organizational message will seem stale to a leader long before it has reached deep into his or her team. The concept of overcommunication is not about the quantity of information you share. It’s about the number of times important information is conveyed. If people don’t know the plan, they can’t execute it passionately.
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