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.
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.