The art of Communication
Relaying your message in the ever increasing melee of media channels is hard enough but when we spend most of our day communicating, facilitating meetings, presenting proposals, writing features/reports or emails, the methods to communicate simply goes on.
Much as a soldier needs clear, concise communication to insure the success of their mission, we need the same approach so what better way than to use this as an acronym to move forward? This feature looks at methods of communicating to boost productivity in a well-constructed and clear means to get that message across. With examples of Incorrect(I) and Correct(C) practices, let us SOLDIER on:
Solid Obvious Lucid Done! In a nutshell Exact Respectful
- SOLID – When your message is solid, your audience/readers obtain a clear picture of what you are relaying. There are sufficient details/facts to insure focus.
(I)“Fran’s Highlighters, best highlight for work”. No passion or details to stir the emotion. It is fluid, not solid.
(C)“Make those important details shine out and catch your audience’s attention. Stand out from the crowd by using Fran’s Highlighters.. be fluorescent among the overcast” helps give an image of your material standing out.
- OBVIOUS – What is your objective? What information do you wish to relay/receive? Create smaller paragraphs when writing making your intentions obvious.
(I)“Hi Fred, would love to have a chat about one of the items in your email last week. Let us know when you have time to discuss”. Which item in particular? And the reason for discussing. Offers more questions than clarity.
(C)“Hi Fred, The 3rd item in your email last Thursday at 16:36 has raised some interesting issues regards marketing that I would appreciate your input. Are you available Wednesday morning for an overview discussion?” Fred knows what email, what item, reason for the reply and a time frame to work to.
- LUCID – When your communication is articulated well, it then becomes logical. Points made are relevant to the topic. Flow is even and everything is connected.
(I)“Hi Mary, Thanks for the update on proposed employment appraisals which are all relevant, I’ll reply later which reminds me. We have a joint management meeting on Tuesday to discuss the sales team, thanks, John” What is there to reply about and what does the meeting have to do with Mary?
(C)”Hi Mary, Just a quick acknowledgement of receiving the employment appraisal update. There are a few areas that need addressing of which I will be speaking to the CEO later this morning and will reply later this afternoon with her thoughts and my comments. Great work raising this important area of our business…” This follows a logical order about the one subject, ie ‘appraisals’ without confusing the issue by introducing other items.
- DONE! – Check what you are relaying has a conclusion. Is there a call to action? Is all appropriate information included?
(I)”Hi all, don’t forget to bring your stuff to the meeting tomorrow, Cheers Alfrenso” What meeting? Where? When? What ‘stuff’?
(C)“Hi all, Just a quick reminder to attend tomorrow’s meeting in the third floor office, 10.30am. We will be discussing the IT changeover and how best to implement change. Please bring the forms in the ‘ITC’ pack. Alfrenso” Now they know when, where, what is needed and the subject matter.
- IN A NUTSHELL – Keep the point being made brief & concise, nothing is to be gained from dragging information out over 10 paragraphs when 3 will suffice. I have someone proof read my work to remove filler words and phrases that offer no further clarity or weight to the point being made. eg conversation:
(I)“I wanted to reach out to you, Jeremy regarding the outline for marketing plans for the business that we touched on last week. I think our target market will benefit from what we discussed around the ergonomics of the product which will inevitably help them while they are at work. This will help the sales team get more focused on the sustainability of this new line in their sales portfolio. What are your thoughts? (74wrd)” now remove the fillers.
(C)“Hi Jeremy, I wanted to discuss the marketing plans deliberated last Wednesday. In particular, the ergonomics which will prove beneficial in their workplace and our level of sustainability for the new sales profile with the sales team. What are your thoughts? (41wrd)”. Same information but more succinctly.
- EXACT – Be aware that autocorrect on spelling may not necessarily adjust incorrect words correctly spelled. Take care that the information is error free too!
(I)“Hi Emily, Grate to see you earlier this afternoon were we chatted about Johnsons order and there perchase structure. When your free next, lets sit down for a coffee. Thanks, Mike” 7 errors, did you see them all?
(C)“Hi Emily, Great to see you earlier this afternoon where we chatted about Johnson’s order and their purchase structure. When you’re free next, let’s sit down for a coffee. Thanks, Mike”. Better still, eliminate abbreviations such as you’re to you are etc. Spell checkers won’t necessarily catch incorrect word usage, so it’s (or it is!) imperative to proofread everything!
- RESPECTFUL – A simple rule is to be courteous. Develop a manner of remaining courteous, friendly, honest and open. This resolves situations quickly and amicably.
(I)“John, The state of the yard is unkempt and items are strewn all over the show, how are staff expected to park let alone customers getting in, what must they think? Thanks to this, I got drenched yesterday when I had to walk from the overspill car park. For the last few months this has got out of hand, I need you to do something about it pronto, Hilary” This opening was blunt without attempting to find the cause of the recent change. This is a great way to create internal conflicts.
(C)=“Hi John, I was hoping you could help me clear up a situation I see developing. I have noticed for 2 months, stock being placed in staff and customer’s car park spaces. Obviously this is raising concerns from the staff and impacting customer’s experiences of visiting us. We need to address this as a matter of priority. Normally you keep the stock meticulously placed, is there a reason for it being placed outside and what can we do to assist you in this matter? I look forward to receiving your reply to see how we can better this situation together. Kind regards, Hilary”. Hilary doesn’t need to mention that she got soaked. The content is factual so no hiding from it. It’s polite yet seeking an outcome while offering to help where possible.
These are the starting blocks for good communication.
In the meantime, should you, or members of your team, be struggling with communication, don’t simply fight the battle or SOLDIER on your own, contact Neil Nutburn at Coaching to Success via email@example.com or 07761 187238 to arrange a free consultation on how Coaching to Success can help you.
And why not get a feel for the person by checking out our short ‘interview’ video at https://youtu.be/RvCwOL4hPco
Clarity is the Secret to Effective Delegation
As adults, we’ve grown from infancy being totally dependent on others through to teenage/early 20s where we felt independent. In adulthood, we realise that we can’t do everything and sometimes we require others help to achieve our objectives. Stephen Cover referred to this as being the state of interdependency.
Part of this understanding is ‘Delegation’, and the key to this is ‘Clarity’.
How often have you been delegated to do something that is veiled in mystique? When is it required by? How do I go about doing this? Who has responsibility? Why ME?
Or the difficult art of delegating? “I know the system so can do it quicker”! “I’ll be more accurate”! and a variety of other self-imposed reasons why we don’t. Even as an employed Director, I believed these things and wondered why I never had time to enjoy life, family and friends as I seemed either to be working or sleeping through exhaustion.
Here are some useful ideas that I have helped many clients grasp the element of effective delegation through clarity:
- The Objective – Know the required outcome and be clear in this when passing a task on. Don’t assume they know, inform.
For example, if you stress to someone that you need an urgent report on a system you believe will benefit the business, don’t simply ask “I need a quick assessment as this is really important”, set the parameters.
What exactly is it that needs to be done? Do you just want a paragraph, a page, a 10-page report? And assess what? Sales, market share, range of products? All of the above or something else? Make the expected outcome clear.
- Communication – Without clarity, perception of what is required lies totally with the person carrying out the task. I once gave a task to someone that took two days and when they returned with all the data, it covered far more than what I required. This resulted in wasted time and all because I didn’t communicate well enough.
Before handing out a task, check what you need to be accomplished and write it down, we are not telepathic (mind you, the wife always seems to know what I’m thinking!) so don’t expect the delegate to know what you want.
Leave the door open to requests for clarification and openly invite them to raise questions to obtain the direction they require.
- Time – Begin with the end in mind (Stephen R. Covey). Agree progress updates, with expected deadlines or timelines. Take time to read submitted reports or have discussions. Where necessary, make relevant adjustments. If you ask for something quick, do you mean this afternoon, the end of the week, month, year? Think about how much time will be necessary but not just time, what other responsibilities the delegate has to work around. Discuss and agree a time frame.
- Responsibility – Delegate responsibility with authority but remember, ultimately, it is YOURS. Define authority and accountability. What is their level of approach? Set the parameters. If there are to be more than one person involved, insure that all know who the lead is in this particular request. Everyone involved may be completely capable in their abilities but without leadership (and there is another subject in itself) you have a recipe for confusion.
- Support – Refrain from belittling but ride the successes. Consider accomplishment rewards or benefits, publically praise their work or express future opportunities. Be there to answer questions, monitor (but not micro-manage) and ask for progress updates. Keep updating to show you are all on the same ‘Clear’ path.
The head of an orchestra can’t necessarily play every instrument but they know how to get the whole group to create a beautiful symphony due to setting clear direction. Delegation is no different.
Coaching to Success specialise in gaining clarity and responsibility. Should enhanced delegation skills help, please contact Neil by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07761 187238 to arrange a complimentary meeting. Also, have a look at Neil’s interview video https://youtu.be/RvCwOL4hPco. You’ll always be assured a warm welcome to discuss how we can help.
How do I even start to get motivated?
I was asked to do a presentation in Winchester based around ‘Motivation’ and it was received well with many asking for the slides after the event.
This then made me think that maybe as a nation, motivation may be under a little pressure and having done some research, yep, it is. That drive, that energy, that impetus to push forward and make those changes have dwindled due to work overloads or draining energy to obtain dwindling work.
So Coaching to Success decided it might prove beneficial to write a feature on this subject and here we have it.
What motivates people in the world of work? One BIG motivator is clarity. People need to know…
- Exactly what it is that they are supposed to do.
- Why they are supposed to do it.
- How it fits into the big picture.
- How it will be measured.
- When it is due.
- What standard of quality is expected
- How their efforts affect the work of others.
“The greater the clarity that a person has about their assignment and the order of priority in which it’s to be done, the happier and more empowered they feel right from the start.”
However, all too often we visit clients to find, at least in part, the opposite applies. With clarity, yes, something as simple as this, can offer a direction for people to aim towards, even if it’s yourself, find that clarity and you gain the motivation to reach it.
Self-motivation is complex but there are four main factors
- Positive Thinking
- Focus and Tangible Goal Setting
- Motivating environment
You need ALL FOUR to help move self-motivation forward quickly so let’s take each in turn:
5 steps to help you improve Confidence…
- Think about the achievements in your life
- Set achievable and realistic goals (S.M.A.R.T.)
- Seek those who model the competencies, skills, attributed that you desire
- Examine your Strengths to understand what you can build on
- Ascertain what others see as your strengths and key capabilities
Think positively … Not just about ‘now’ but also ‘positively’ about the future!
Quote by an unknown author…
“Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past. Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and choices you make today”
To help with moving your thoughts forwards, try the following:
- Create a strong vivid picture of what it would be like to achieve your goal
- Become aware of your daily thoughts. Write them down throughout the day. Stick them in a jar!?
- Develop positive affirmations about yourself. Repeat these to yourself throughout the morning, day, evening.
- Challenge negative thoughts – Replace with positive outcomes
- Practice ‘positive’ thinking about events, people, situations, the world and yourself every day until it becomes automatic!
With regards Goal Setting, Edwin A. Locke, established that ‘Goals’ should have the following characteristics:
- Clarity – Effective goals are clear, measurable, specific, and based on behaviour, not outcomes.
- Challenge – Goals should be difficult enough to be interesting, but not so difficult that you can’t reach them.
- Commitment – Goals should be attainable, and should be relevant –contribute significantly towards the major objectives.
- Regularity of Feedback – Monitor progress regularly to maintain sense of momentum/enthusiasm. Enjoy the progress.
- Sufficient Respect For Complexity – If the goal involves complex work, make sure that you don’t over-commit yourself.
With regards Motivational Environment, it’s best that we don’t rely entirely on those around us but we can occasionally look to them for support, and here are some things you could try:
- Ask or Look for interesting assignments
- Set up some ‘Easily Achievable’ goals (quick wins are great motivators)
- Look for ‘Team Work’ opportunities (makes you accountable to others)
- Ask or Look for ‘Specific’ targets and objectives (these help measure your success)
- Buddy up with someone you trust (there’s both support and accountability)
- Try not to work alone! Balance time spent working from home with time spent working with others.
In summary, no one can motivate anyone to do anything. All they can do is provide the incentive to motivate themselves! So here’s 9 effective strategies to help towards un-tapping your potential:
- Cease indulging in self-limiting thinking
- Train yourself to finish what you started
- Live ‘fully’ today – refrain from dwelling what was in the past or simply ‘dreaming’ of things yet to come
- Be willing to leave your comfort zone.
- Choose to be happy! Don’t let others influence this, happy people are easily motivated.
- Don’t fear making mistakes – Wisdom helps us avoid them and comes from making a million of them!
- Never quit when you experience a setback or frustration
- Spend an hour a day on self-development – Listen to inspiring MP3s, CDs or audio files, read good books etc
- Dare to dream BIG! – Reach for the stars, the worst that can happen is you’ll hit the moon.
Coaching to success is renowned for the motivation it offers individuals in the coaching/training/workshop sessions so if you or members of your team are looking for that lift with ideas to get you going and believe in what you’re aiming for, contact Neil on 07761 187238 or email email@example.com who, with tools and techniques, can assure you the buzz you need and to be amazed at what you will be able to achieve.
Season’s Greeting and here’s to a successful 2016
As we’re all exceptionally busy leading up to the Season’s festivities, we thought we’d take some time out too so today’s message is quite simple …
Sometimes you simply need to reward yourself by taking time out and not constantly worrying about what plans you need to make.
A great way to recharge those mental batteries is to spend time with those who are important, ie Friends and Family.
So there’s the tip for today … give yourself some timeout so you can return with a fresh outlook, as we will, at the beginning of 2016.
All the best for now, and for the structured steps you’ll be takine to make 2016 the best year yet. And should you wish to have an open and frank conversation about your goals and aspirations then contact Neil on 07761 187238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to have a complementary and confidential discussion/meeting to see how we can help you create growth in 2016.