We’ve all been there before. We work on a project. It goes sideways. People point fingers and blamestorm. Eventually, we’re all just glad it’s over, and no one gives a damn how well, or even if, we solved the problem we set out to fix. Inevitably, someone says, “we just need to communicate better.” Everyone agrees, and resumes all the same dysfunctional behaviors that got you into the mess.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can communicate better, but you’re going to have to get a little meta about the whole thing. The main reason we seem to be so bad at communication is because treat it like it’s a singular thing when it’s really a complex system of overlapping system. Another reason is it’s instinctual – we communicate whether we like it or not – so we assume just doing it is good enough. Instead, we should be treating it like a skill.
The surface area of communication is way to big for any of us to master. That’s why it’s better to break it down into smaller concepts that are easier to focus on.
To help you get started, here’s a list of things you should think about before you get started on your next project. They’re what I consider some of hot spots where communication is likely to break down. Over time I will be digging deeper into each one of these topics, so stay tuned to this page for links to future articles.
- Language the words and concepts we use to convey meaning
- Consensus being logical and reasonable with each other
- Conflict how we deal with disagreements and arguments
- Time how we deal with the past, present and future
- Environment the context and elements in which we communicate
- Culture the personality of your organization
- Process the order in which we do things
- Objectives our personal and collective goals