Foundations of Good and Bad Communication

Why didn’t the team finish the project in time?  How did she accomplish so much in such a short meeting?  Both good and bad communication doesn’t just happen, there are root causes underneath. 

I came across two articles that at first seemed to be polar opposites.  After reading them in depth however, I realized that both were about the underlying causes of effective or defective communication. 

The first article, from AllBusiness.com, studies the roots of poor communication because:  “Only by understanding the root cause can you effectively work to solve the underlying issue.”

A very good point.  And the number one root cause?  Fear.  Fear of failing, fear of losing a position, fear of ridicule for a bad idea, these different manifestations can shut people’s mouths, even when it’s best-for them and/or the team or project-to speak up.

Good and Bad Communication

Confusion is another big producer of poor communication.  Who is in charge?  What role does each person have?  Where do I send my part of the project?  Confusion can take a highly-capable group of people and make them produce sub-par results.  At best, multiple solutions are conceived and developed.  At worst, you get cross-purpose actions clash and fail.

Fear can be allayed and confusion routed by good communication.  But what are the underlying principles of that?  From BNET.com, the Corner Office blog, I read four general, but solid principles to build your communication foundation:

  • Be direct and concise – “Say what you mean and mean what you say.”
  • Be honest and genuine –People can tell if you’re being genuine, even if it’s only subconsciously.
  • Be present and open – This is a bit Zen, but a more practical application would be to listen with your ears and mind.
  • Be confident but measured – Stand by your views and statements, but remember that others have their own thoughts and views.  In other words, avoid putting your foot in your mouth.