Thursday, September 12, 2013

4 Ways to End the Communication Breakdown

One of my favorite songs is Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown".  Now while Robert Plant's thoughts are about a girl, there is a lot that leaders can glean from his simple words.  What he is trying to say is that the absence of communication always leads the organization to the same place.  The simple lyrics in the chorus set the tone for today's post.

Communication Breakdown, It's always the same, 
I'm having a nervous breakdown, Drive me insane!

These lyrics ring true of just about any time that you or your staff have gone crazy about a situation. When frustration has abounded, the root of the problem can always be discovered where someone important was left out of the loop.

So what are the ways we can end the communication breakdown?


"Assumptions are the termites of relationships." ~ Henry Winkler

When we assume without a conversation, we are often left frustrated.  Take the time to verify that communication has taken place and that it was clear.  This small investment of time will pay you back tenfold.

"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place." ~ George Bernard Shaw

Just because you said it doesn't mean it was communicated.  Communication must received and comprehended in order for it to count.  Ask questions.  Find out if what you said made any sense.

Tools for Communication

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." ~ Abraham Harold Maslow

I love this quote because it is so true.  Effective leaders use multiple methods to communicate.  They don't create lines of communication.  They create nets of communication or multiple lines of communication that overlap to ensure that the message doesn't slip through the cracks.  Nets of communication involve emails, blogs, one on one conversation, text message, team conferences.  The message is delivered with multiple methods to ensure reception.


"Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating." ~ Charlie Kaufman

Leaders are constantly talking but are rarely communicating.  This is because we have been hard wired by decades of models and examples.   We have been trained to believe that in order to demonstrate that we are competent and capable leaders, we must be preaching the gospel of improvement.  Leaders of successful organization listen to their people, y'all.  That's because great leaders know that their people make the ultimate difference and that can't happen unless the leader is listening to them.


When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant and effective." ~ Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Let's get real.  Trust isn't built in a day and is destroyed in a minute.  The reason for that ultimately lies in communication.  Saying one thing and doing another basically kills trust.  Leaders must know that every day is an opportunity to build stronger levels of trust, and the reason for that is because trust accelerates improvement.

No Trust = No Improvement

Ending the Breakdown

Communication is the hardest skill for leaders to develop because it is so hard to see results instantly.  The best leaders know that when communication is clear, frequent, honest and timely, the entire organization inches one step closer toward success.  They also believe that their communication is never good enough, that what they say is always misunderstood by someone; therefore, their work is never done.  Ending the insanity of communication breakdown is never easy and never will be easy.

No comments:

Post a Comment