We are drowning in communication for the wrong reasons

We have all heard how important communication is and how it always fails. All of us are continuously urged to keep others informed and to share information. Use Slack, send information by email, talk to your colleagues, use WhatsApp, call, text, grab a beer, have meetings, attend meetings, have lunch, follow Twitter, be on LinkedIn, follow Facebook and post on Instagram. People are drowning in communication. Many people are so deep in everything, that it is hard to get anything through. Not only for persons working in sales and marketing, but for everyone.

Focus is getting lost. We don’t know what is important to pay attention to. There is so much information available that we are getting misinformed. It is not a surprise that there is discussion about entering the period after truth. A political way of saying, that we are more likely to ignore facts and trust our own stupidity. The world is getting more complex and we are struggling trying to adapt to it.

So it’s no wonder companies have difficulties getting their messages through when it comes to development programs. If there are 50 improvement initiatives competing for the attention of the staff, some of them are bound to be overlooked. And we need to remember that change initiatives often struggle with execution oriented organization culture and practices. Since it is highly difficult to give your utter best to two things at the same time. In my opinion a lot could be done to internal communication with just three improvements.

First of all, many directors and managers need to change their attitude towards communication. I have noticed several times, especially when it comes to people with a specialist or engineering background, that supervisors don’t consider communication to be real work. They might think they are better off solving issues than talking about them. It’s unfortunately still very common that you select to promote someone with experience rather than someone with leadership skills. For example, your best sales representative might often not be the best sales director. It requires different skill sets, and communication is one of those skills. And a super important one.

Communication is real work.

Secondly, you need to make people more aware about what concerns them. If they get company or unit wide emails every week, you should not rely on people to find what is relevant for them. They are swamped with information and focused on getting things done. So they will have difficulties finding and understanding what and why they should care. But it is not always easy for the communicator to know who should be reading the message. A simple solution would be to more often state in the beginning of a message whom it concerns and why.

Thirdly, this is also a communication practice and tool thing. You need to have the right channels for the information you are trying to get through to people. For example, the understanding of what needs to be discussed and what can just be informed by email. But also what you should discuss in chat tools and what you should not. Since communication is not one directional you often create unawareness and misunderstandings, if you use the wrong channel for communication. People need to understand what you are trying to say and have the possibility to discuss and ask questions, if need be.

You create misunderstandings, if you use the wrong channel.

Good communication is one of the fundamentals for a happy and productive working environment. The feeling of not knowing makes you ask questions. Unanswered questions make you feel worried and overlooked. We often fail to communicate in a good way, because we don't care or think it's important.