It’s the start of a new year and we’re all setting goals. The trick is creating goals and resolutions that we’ll actually stick to. Start by focusing on what simply makes good common sense for how we communicate with others in meaningful and effective ways. Many of these goals are simply reminders of what our parents and grandparents taught us about how to work and play well with others. But knowing isn’t the same thing as doing. If you review this list of common-sense communication goals for 2017 and you’re not already practicing each of them consistently, maybe you’ll find a couple of additions to your 2017 goals list. The best part is that they’re simple and doable. They just take commitment and practice.
1. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY
This seems straightforward, but countless hours and dollars are wasted every day due to vague communication or miscommunication. This is really demotivating for those who bear the cost of having to redo work because you didn’t say what you meant in the first place. As business leaders, we bear responsibility for saying what we mean because it directly impacts the precious team members around us and company resources. Thoughtful, direct, precise communication is essential to ensure that time and effort of team members is spent wisely. Meaning what we say is equally important, and it’s not the same thing as saying what we mean. Saying what we mean is taking the time to be precise and clear in our language without beating around the bush. Meaning what we say is speaking with intent and commitment. Do you have conviction and commitment to what you’re saying? Will you feel the same way tomorrow? Have you thought it through? If so, you can be sure that your words have credibility. If not, think some more before speaking.
2. COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM COMMUNICATE WITH YOU
Use the golden rule in communication. When someone adds a meeting to your calendar, you likely want to have some context about the subject of the meeting and the agenda that will be covered there. You likely prefer people to be open and honest with you, thoughtful in their words, and to give you as much advanced communication as possible on topics that will impact you or require action on your part. You no doubt want others to be respectful, calm and kind in their communication with you. Do the same for them. This takes a great deal of discipline in an age where most people are overcommitted and overscheduled. But it means that time is all the more precious. Using the golden rule in communicating with others makes work life much more pleasant and helps us to work better with one another.
3. SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE
In genuinely caring about one another, both truth and love (or caring) are equally important. Puffing someone else up with your words when what you’re saying isn’t true isn’t actually loving or genuine. On the other hand, speaking truth without care can be harsh and damaging. Leadership involves a delicate balance of speaking the truth, especially when it takes great courage to do so because the message is difficult to share. Perhaps a team member’s performance on a project wasn’t what it needed to be. Or a customer care situation wasn’t handled the way it should have been handled. Simply speaking truth could make the situation worse if it isn’t done with care. On the other hand, withholding truth in an effort to spare the person’s emotions thinking you’re doing the loving thing, doesn’t help them, you or your company. Speaking the truth is essential. Doing so lovingly and with regard for the person over the behavior is equally critical.
4. KEEP YOUR PROMISES
This one takes a great deal of commitment and practice. We aim to please. This can mean we overcommit ourselves and end up falling short later. If you do nothing else this year, you’ll improve your credibility and build trust with those you work with if you do this one thing before you make a promise. Stop and consider whether or not you can really keep that promise. Only make commitments you can keep.
5. USE FEWER WORDS
Each of us has found ourselves in a meeting where people seem to be talking just to fill the air with words. And each of us has been halfway through a long, windy email thinking that it could have been shorter. Don’t be the person who uses more words than necessary. Take the time to edit communication down to what’s essential. Use humility in speaking only when you really have something to say. You’ll save time, and probably gain the respect of those around you who learn to listen because when you speak, you say something worth listening to.
6. SPEAK PLAINLY
Our business world is full of buzzwords and jargon that’s intended to make us look smart, when really it just garbles communication. Bust buzzwords. Simplify your speech. De-lingo your communication both inside and outside your company and boost the clarity of your communication. Use clear, short sentences and avoid flowery language that doesn’t mean much. The people you work with will thank you.
7. SAY THANK YOU SINCERELY AND OFTEN
Nothing is as priceless as a simple thank you said with meaning. But it takes discipline to get into the habit of saying thank you. You may even need to put a daily reminder in your calendar to schedule gratitude. Ask yourself who you need to thank today. Keep a stack of notecards on your desk and make it a point to write one heartfelt thank you each week to someone who helps you do your job better. Be sincere and specific in what they did and what qualities about them made the project a success. You may even choose to keep on hand business gifts appropriate for the occasion when someone’s gone above and beyond, to help them wear the company logo with pride and celebrate their part in its success. The most important part is that you express the gratitude you feel. Because gratitude left unexpressed is often perceived as a lack of gratitude.
7.5. REVIEW AND REPEAT UNTIL THESE GOALS BECOME HABITS
And here we come to the “point 5” of our 7.5 Communication Goals for 2017. It’s not really a different goal. It’s the reminder to review these goals often and commit them to practice for a more meaningful 2017 with those you care about and work with. May your 2017 be full of meaning.
Cheers from your friends at Threadfellows!