As a manager in the hospitality business, an advisor to hundreds of entrepreneurs and the founder of Clarity coaching and facilitation, one skill has emerged as the key focus: communication. It has become very clear that this skill is at least as important to my clients and colleagues. When I meet with executives and leaders in every type of organization, one word invariably comes up: communication. Of course I have to “double click” or ask more questions to determine what that means to my client.
Here is the Wikipedia definition: Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning "to share") as “the act of conveying intended meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs.” Yet my clients are often sharing their concerns that communication in their companies and organizations is not effective, causing stress and challenges they realize are unnecessary and unproductive. That’s why I immediately related to an article by Judith E. Glaser from Benchmark Communications. Over 35 years of study and research of data gained from conversations in 500 companies, she determined that “9 in 10 conversations miss the mark.” She went on to explain that ‘Fail to hit the mark’ meant, “people walked away from conversations with different views of reality and what they agreed upon.” So we have intentions when we communicate and yet we walk away with different views of what we’ve agreed on or what is real. Can you imagine how that plays out at work or even in your personal life?
Why are Communication skills so important?
- Mindful communication is necessary in the workplace. According to a recent Gallup study, a whopping 87 percent of employees worldwide report disengagement at work. The survey discovered the power of having a best friend at work in “identifying talented workgroups -- the strongest agreement occurred in the most productive workgroups.” The report noted that the development of trusting relationships is a “significant emotional compensation for employees in today's marketplace.” Thus, it is easy to understand why it is such a key trait of retention.
- Idea sharing should be fun. Ideas increase opportunities, create buy in and bring out innovation in trusting teams. The teams we are honored to co-create with are usually at varying levels of trust with each other. One of my clients, a senior executive in one of Canada’s largest privately owned companies, told me that he felt innovation was vital. The challenge in getting people to discover and innovate is that they need to trust that their ideas will be shared in a safe environment. The Executive Director of an Innovation Centre in Ontario shared with me that Elon Musk had been working for him early in his career. With embarrassment on his face he admitted that he’d told Elon that Pay Pal wouldn’t work. We all know how that turned out! Even the craziest ideas need to be treated with respect.
- In an uncertain world, leadership is needed more than ever. Whatever we aspire to create requires us to communicate. This requires us to trust others so that we can share, discover and inspire each other to deliver results. Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry says that, “Trust, at its highest level, removes self and enables interactions and conversations to connect teams for higher performance and purpose.”
So how can we have more engaging, transformative conversations that “hit the mark”? This was what inspired me to take a course on Conversational Intelligence with author, executive coach and founder of the Creating We Institute, Judith E. Glaser.
In a nutshell, we have discussed the importance of establishing a foundation of trust. We have acknowledged the need to be transparent and to listen to connect with others rather than judge them. Excellent communicators test assumptions and listen to close any reality gaps. When we ask questions for which we have no answers, in an attitude of sharing and discovery, we create strategies for mutual success. Communicating effectively reduces stress, increases joy in your work and your life. Extraordinary results have been achieved by “hitting the mark” when we have higher Conversational Intelligence.