I Talk Too Much
I talk too much. Well, I used to. When I was a new leader, I worked in an organization where the most common complaint was that leadership didn’t communicate. I figured the more I conversed with my team, the less opportunity they would have to say I wasn’t communicating with them.
It’s true that talking about the weekend, asking how the family was doing, and inquiring into what one thought about a particular sports event is communicating.
But talking isn’t the sole component of communicating.
I learned that, to really communicate, I first had to learn how to listen. Not just with my ears, but with my eyes, and my heart. Yes – with ears, eyes, and heart. Recognize the phrase “half-hearted listening”? When I learned to also listen with my eyes and heart, my ears began to pick up the message underneath the words. Listening with my whole being opened the possibilities and the opportunities to truly communicate.
When these opportunities presented themselves and I looked for the sometimes-hidden message, I was better able to address the root of the situation. I could really communicate what was needed, important, and personal to the receiver.
Communication is defined in a myriad of ways. Here are a few definitions that came up when I searched the word “communication” on Microsoft Bing:
- Communication (from Latin communicare, meaning "to share") is the act of developing meaning among entities or groups through the use of sufficiently mutually understood signs, symbols, and semiotic conventions. (Wikipedia)
- The imparting or exchanging of information or news. (Bing dictionary)
- A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. (Mirriam-Webster)
What I’ve heard time and time again from employees is “the organization, the leaders, headquarters, [fill in the blank], doesn’t communicate with us”.
What they really wanted (and needed!) is active and effective communication – to feel heard, to be part of the solution, and to be acknowledged as important.
Active offers multiple methods. Communication that is continuous, proactive, energetic, and dynamic may be considered active.
Effective, on the other hand, is specific. Effective communication successfully produces a desired or intended outcome and accomplishes a purpose.
Some leaders (like the old me) talk for the sake of talking. Regardless of whether or not you believe you fit that description, consider the average verbal exchange you have with your team, and honestly think through the intention and purpose of the conversation.
A few things to consider when attempting active and effective communication:
What is the need of my receiver? Guidance? Knowledge transfer? Or how-to information to do the job more effectively?
What is the purpose of this discussion? Is it to share information? Provide data for a project? Invite recommendations and solutions?
What do I want the receiver to walk away with? What actions are required of the receiver when the discussion concludes?
Have I effectively addressed and answered all questions? There are many questions that cannot be answered for any number of reasons – including legal, moral, and ethical ones – and the receiver may not always be satisfied with the information you are able to provide. The important thing is to address each issue and provide a reasonable response to all questions.
It comes down to this. Do you talk a lot without saying much of value? Do you listen half-heartedly? Is active listening a struggle, or do you watch for signs of deeper meanings and engage the listener on that level?
Actively and effectively communicating doesn’t have to be a daunting task; taking one step at a time can get you communicating at a cadence that drives respect and trust.
I can help you intentionally strategize your active communication skills (listening and talking) to consider next steps to help you grow into a truly excellent leader. Let’s chat!
P.S. Book a Complimentary Strategy Session so we can get you moving in the right direction; click on my Complimentary Strategy Session calendar link here and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!
P.P.S. With over three decades of professional experience in corporate operations and executive human resources, I am a proven results-driven leader. My expertise includes strategy, change management, talent management and organizational development, employee relations, and executive and leadership coaching. I am a highly effective communicator and team leader with proven ability to build long-term relationships across internal and external customer environments built with integrity, confidence, authenticity, and trust.