Communication: Better with others (835 words)

article bank collaboration communication Apr 13, 2022

A permission to reprint can be here.


Focus area(s): collaboration, strategy

While it’s true we communicate each day, how well it is done…this is another matter. Many communications are mundane. There are some that are wasteful of time and mind power.

Then…then there are other communications that carry with them real consequences. While one person is typically accountable for a decision being made, a team can help craft the communication that executes a decision.

What is a communication?

A simple definition is not always simply recognized by people. For our purposes, this will be our definition of communication.

A communication is any act that involves the sending and/or reception of information in any format between two or more people.

Communication takes place in one or more of these four formats:

  •  Spoken/heard/auditory
  •  Written/read
  •  Visual design
  •  Kinetic/movement

Clarity on communication.

What do you want a person or people to do after receiving your communication?

This is the question that must be answered prior to working on the communication itself. Any group must have a goal that is understood by all members. When creating a communication, your goal is to prompt a person or people to act in a way in that creates  a desired outcome. This desired outcome will provide a focal point for all activity by your communication team. When creating your desired outcome, try to keep it one to three sentences long. It should never be longer than five sentences.

When to create a communication team?

Not every communication activity requires forming a communication team, be it formal or ad-hoc. If your desired outcome changes a person life (for the better or worse), get a team together. These outcomes can include, but are not limited to, these examples:

  •  Anything that includes making or losing money
  •  A decision that will significantly change someone one’s life (personally and/or professional). 
  •  A decision that impacts the health and well-being of others.

Also included are critical communications you make at work or as an individual. Examples of these include:

  •  Hiring or firing a person/client
  •  Reorganizations
  •  Creating a resume (and cover sheet)
  •  Closing a work location
  •  Preparing for an interview (for a job, college, or some group/program)
  •  Writing an article or book
  •  Work schedules/after-hours availability
  •  Change in benefits including health benefits, gym access, etc.

Why work with others about communication?

While Chuck Norris movies are entertaining, there are few instances of one person saving the day single-handedly (except this guy). Teaming up with others has a number of benefits including:

  •  More eyeballs and minds can help minimize mistakes that range from embarrassing to legal liability.
  •  People can use their knowledge, experiences, and imaginations to more quickly come up with better communication ideas.
  •  A team of people can leverage different people’s skills.  One person may be a better writer, but another person might be better at understanding the intended audience.
  •  People can hold one another accountable to creating a communication that best achieves a desired outcome.
  •  By including people on your team, more people are likely to support the desired outcome and work effort to achieve this outcome.

Your communication team.

Does a person’s contributions and feedback help to achieve a desired outcome?

If the answer is yes, that person should be considered for your team, but don’t make a team so large it gets in its on way to success. Smaller is better. When the answer is no, pass on that person. People that don’t clearly contribute to your outcome will only hamper your efforts.

Contribution on a communication team will take quite different forms. A person may be involved in creating a communication while another checks it for errors or reviews it. Some people may be on the team for the length of the project. Others might drop on and off your team depending on need and availability. You create the team that best help you achieve your desired outcome.

Working with someone means having conversations about ways to make the communication better (and you better in the process). The more formal term for this is “feedback”. This is a word that has garnered a negative connotation, principally thanks to employee evaluations.

When we work on tasks, too often we get too close and lose awareness of potential pitfalls. While you might be convinced a communication is effective, other people might interpret it differently. If this becomes a trend, reassess what you are trying to achieve, because something is not working as intended.

Feedback can help avoid pitfalls mistakes. It can also save money and time. It can give birth to new ideas.

Good feedback is golden. Bad feedback can be toxic. Often you have to sort through the feedback of little value to get to that gold.

Focus tips:

  •  Collaboration: Can you name three people to help you create a communication? Who are they?
  •  Strategy: Thinking of a current communication (or the latest one you have done), who needs to receive that information? Who does not?