If your organization suffers from a persistent communication problem and all your attempts at solving the problem have failed, it could be because poor communication is only a symptom of the real problem that you should be addressing. If you are constantly training your people on communication skills and trying one tool or process after another, only to see them seemingly go to waste, it is because your bottleneck is probably not a missing tool set or even skill set. If this is the situation you find yourself in, I submit that you don’t really have a communication problem, but rather a commitment problem!
Early in my career, I had a boss who was a micro-manager. Really, it might be better to call him a “nano-manager,” with the way he did things. I mean, this guy somehow kept up with every single little detail of everything that was going on in his operation, and no triviality was too small for him to intervene over and put everyone in their place. This was just a couple years after Bill Gates predicted that there would be “a computer on every desk and in every home,” but we weren’t there yet; I can only imagine the level of megalomania this boss would have felt with the internet at his fingertips.
How would you describe the nicest vacation you have ever taken, if you could only use one word? How about how it felt the first time you got your feelings hurt? What word would you use to describe your earliest positive or negative memory? Chances are you cannot remember and describe every detail about these experiences, but the labels you have given them are probably firmly etched in your mind. When you think back about these or other memories, the first thing comes to your mind is the label, and your mind then uses that label to fill in the blanks around it. The fact is, this doesn’t apply only to memories, because we are constantly applying labels to every experience we have. The labels we choose—or let other choose for us—are what ultimately determine the context and meaning behind everything we experience, good or bad.
When it comes to the outcomes in our personal and professional lives, there is basically no factor more important than the decisions we make, or fail to make. Our decisions are at the root of almost every experience we have, both good and bad. While our starting points may differ, our decisions are what set things in motion and initiate behaviors that will become habits that deliver the results we produce. That being the case, it would make sense for us to approach our decisions as effectively as possibly, but unfortunately, in many organizations especially, that is not the case.
Let’s face it: just about every organization out there is full of opportunities to improve communication. The only real difference between them is that some realize it, and some don’t. For every organization that has acknowledged the issue and is actively working on it, there are many more that either have a case of “deer in the headlights” or are in full-blown denial.