Are you waving, or drowning?

I am a good communicator. What does that actually mean? It’s up there with I enjoy swimming with mediocre one-liners you might have in your CV.

Can you swim, are you actually any good at it? Would you survive at sea, or do you think you are a good swimmer just because you haven’t drowned yet and you find the action of not drowning mildly enjoyable?

Good communication is not a feeling, and it is better measured by actions. If your organisation has clearly defined roles, tasks get completed on time and people are happy and engaged and not crying in the toilets, these are all signs that communication is going well.

My Dad used to say that the hardest thing about running a business was getting all the men (and women) in their tasks and facing in the right direction.

I went to Q&A recently with Erika Hall and what she said on communication really resonated with me, “Someone’s job should be to make sure that people are communicating, that there are team-based incentives. Communication doesn’t just happen it needs to be designed. Good communication isn’t self-organised it doesn’t just happen by continually putting people in meetings.”

So maybe you are a good communicator, or maybe you are not, but don’t leave it to chance or your subjective opinion. If you hold a position of seniority in your company the chances are that even if you are terrible at communicating no one will have told you.

Sometimes communication works better when you don’t do it, why not let someone else, someone more neutral or even external to your company look at your communication and how it could be designed better. You might be surprised at what you find, you might find some of your people who you thought were waving, are actually drowning.

Reference: Not waving but Drowning, by Stevie Smith

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

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