Say Goodbye to Loose Communication

I love words.

Give me a vision statement, a thesaurus and some engaging conversation and we will get the right words to capture the essence of the vision. Give me an employee offense, Black's Law Dictionary and the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) Guide and I will give you a charge statement in 10 words or less that captures the nuance of the offense in a clear, concise, and sustainable way. 

The bar is set high. Words are the building blocks of a complete communication and every word has a precise and  particular meaning of its own. No all-employee communication, report of meeting, or piece of correspondence crosses my desk without some rewrite. Drives people crazy but I can't help myself.

Respect the word and use words purposefully and sparingly in your communications. Certain words can evoke strong negative emotions, defensiveness or self-doubt. Others can get the very same message across in a non threatening way or bring a positive light to a less than positive situation.

And I am not talking about using word to spin a message. I am talking about using words for authentic and conscious communication. I dislike loose communication. Loose communication can leave questions unanswered, omit pertinent information, misinterpret facts or assume connections between facts that do not exist. Loose communication can be flat out inaccurate. Loose communication can leave those on the receiving end with more questions than they come into the conversation with, riled up, or extremely frustrated. Loose communications always reflects poorly on the communicators and often on the group, team, or project the communicator is representing.

Communicators, think before you speak. What is the purpose of the communication? Is it a call to action, to discuss an issue for added insight, or to build a relationship? What message do you want to deliver and how do you want it to be received? What words will you use? What do you anticipate the listener's concerns will be? How will you address them? Do you have your facts together? Do your facts support your conclusion?

Communicators, be prepared to listen. Listen more than you speak and listen for understanding. Watch for verbal clues to determine the receiver, your partner in the conversation, is ready to switch topics, has something to say, or is ready to conclude.

If you find yourself responding to other's questions, comments or feedback by saying, "well, that's what I meant," it's time to tighten your communication belt. Do it now.