“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate” – Captain, Cool Hand Luke.
Communication or lack thereof consumes almost every working minute of our day. In my daily routine, I am communicating with at least five teams of 2-6 people across different businesses in different states. This distance itself presents a host of problems because so much is lost in inflection or body language. The different business concepts mean that I have to be very precise in my thoughts and the potential questions that arise from that.
Sure, I make communication mistakes daily. I usually have 2-3 replies a day where someone doesn’t understand what I am saying. When I look back at my original email, I can see it plain as day. Where I thought I was crystal clear, I was only speaking from my experience and thoughts and not taking the audience into account.
This is where lesson 2 comes in. And it was SUPER POWERFUL for me- Communication.
Lesson 2 | Terry Houlin – Communication
Terry (that’s him on the left in the picture above instructing Jana Waller [@skullboundtv]) is a retired Navy SEAL Master Chief (26 years), Sniper Instructor, weapon development and tester for BCI Defense, motivator and an INCREDIBLE communicator. I was lucky enough to receive some pistol instruction from Terry and compete (I would hardly call it that, I got like 8th) in a pistol competition that he guided.
I was utterly mesmerized by the concise and incredibly thorough communication on every single potential question that could arise from a novice to an expert shooter. It made me think about my communication skills (or lack thereof) and how that affects my teams and ability to move the ball forward nearly every single day.
How many times do we under/miscommunicate? How many times do we leave questions unanswered? How many times do we put people in situations where they aren’t prepared to execute as we expect them to because we didn’t provide enough instruction? I know I do it ALL the time.
I think the way he communicated impacted me so deeply because I’ve always been a little shy or quiet. I STILL have an issue mumbling. I believe that people think like I do and have the same opinions and experience as I do, only to find out that I’m wrong EVERY TIME.
So how do we fix it?
First, to effectively communicate, you need to understand the subject matter. You don’t thoroughly know how to do something until you can teach someone else how to do it. As you are preparing your communication, think about every possible angle.
Think through the entire process. Think of all the questions that may arise. Then put an explanation of those questions in the process and check all members’ understanding at stopping points. Answer any and all questions and confirm their complete understanding before moving on to the next subject.
We all know we are given two ears and one mouth. Make sure you are listening to the questions and responses. Hint: You can listen with your eyes too! Look at their body language and make sure there are no other barriers like lack of focus, anger, resentment, confusion, etc. These are all cues that maybe you need to stop, address the individual, and ask them if they are on board and confirm with their answer.
Seek to understand before seeking to be understood (Habit #5, 7 Habits of Highly Effective people- seriously stop reading and GO read this book!). Understanding first is a cornerstone of interpersonal communication. Make sure you are listening to understand and not listening to respond. How many times do we sit there tapping our foot ready to explode with an answer? Just waiting to pounce on one thing that was said earlier in the convo and then not actually hear a SINGLE THING after that? I know I do. Especially in pressurized situations when communication is of the utmost importance! Make sure to always listen to the entire response, not just the piece you want to attack.
My process to plan my communication:
- What’s the Goal? What are you trying to convey?
- What are the issues or reason for this message?
- Who am I talking to, and what are their thoughts or mindsets?
- What questions will they have and what are your answers?
- What are the steps that you want them to take moving forward?
- Provide enough time for additional questions and complete understanding.
I use this little guide for even the smallest messages. As with anything in life, create a process, test it, manipulate it, and then test it again over and over until it’s working for you.
How do you plan your communication?
GO, DO & GROW!