Good Communication in Tough Times

Becky Morehouse

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Long ago, I learned one simple rule about communication that has guided my personal and professional communication—if you don’t tell people what’s going on, they will turn to other sources with less pure motives.  

With that in mind, here are seven keys to great personal and organizational communication. 

7 Keys to Great Communication

1. Be first

This is a direct nod to the golden rule outlined above. Great communicators get ahead of the conversation. Introduce the issues and ideas and offer the first perspectives and insights. Play offense rather than defense.   

2. Be constant, continual, frequent or regular

Make sure people see you as their most important, even singular, source of information. You want people habitually turning to you for the information they need. 

3. Watch the gap between what you say and how you will act.

If your words don’t align with your actions you’ve undermined credibility. Once lost, credibility is very difficult to restore.  

There is a corollary to the third rule: Always always always tell the truth.  

4. Keep things bite-sized. 

There is a temptation to address complex issues in a single message so you can get the issue behind you and move on to the next challenge. Don’t. It’s much better to portion out a handful of messages over a short period of time than to do one massive info dump. Shorter messages are more approachable and understandable and can be used to carefully lead the audience in the direction you wish them to go.  

5. Great communication with audiences involves great listening.

Savvy  communicators are very disciplined listeners. They never assume they know what the audience is thinking.  

In addition to listening to their audiences, they also create a group of close advisors who not only funnel information they are hearing, but who are willing to speak to power.  

6. Customize

Each audience has different communication habits, time constraints, and levels of understanding. They also have different information needs and prefer different channels. By acknowledging and acting on these differences you are showing that you are both attentive and respectful. 

7. Be visible

While email and Twitter are powerful channels, people also need to see you. Get out of your office and walk around (when it’s appropriate on your campus). Talk to people. Listen to their ideas and concerns. They will appreciate the opportunity, often give you valuable insight, and your credibility will increase.  

While great communication is as much art as science, these seven rules will help establish your reputation as a leader who can be trusted.  

In September we released a blog on building candor that touched on some of the themes of this blog. 

If you’re interested in Stamats helping you with an internal communication plan, please reach out to me

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