Warning: 6 symptoms you need to work on your communication

Image courtesy of  Luis Llerena www.unsplash.com  

Image courtesy of  Luis Llerena www.unsplash.com  

Most people would agree that communicating powerfully is a key capability of effective leaders.  This becomes increasingly important as your leadership responsibilities grow in size and impact.

When it’s about improving public speaking, conveying your message to the media, speaking up in meetings or listening better, leaders are quick to recognise these as communication issues.   

What about those less recognised symptoms of communication problems?  By their nature, these symptoms are more difficult to recognise because they can masquerade as something else, for example, a problem with time management, prioritisation or delegation. 

Not recognising these less known symptoms will detract from your power to achieve the results you want and enjoy more fulfilment in your role.

Could you be ignoring these six early warning signs that suggest you would do well to take a closer look at your communication?  

1.   You question whether your team are all on the same page.

2.   You experience feelings of frustration and often feel let down by others.

3.   You are never quite satisfied with your team’s output and often request rework from your team or do the rework yourself.

4.   You have a couple of key areas that you really struggle to delegate. 

5.   You find no time to think.

6.   You are often exhausted.

So why, you might ask, do these symptoms point to a need to improve communication?  Our ability to make things happen and co-ordinate action in the world is primarily through what we say and the language we use. 

Whether it be launching a new product or business, or getting our children to complete their homework, when there is a mismatch between what we want and expect and the results we are getting it is time to take a deeper look beneath the surface of what we typically think of as communication issues. 

Until you recognise these issues as having their roots in language and communication, you may find yourself focusing on more obvious remedies that will have some benefit but may not result in break through changes that are sustainable

Identifying your own issues

1.   Use the above symptoms as a daily checklist

2.   Ask yourself if this was an issue or not for you that day and track your responses for a week.

3.   Review your data points after one week and hone in on your particular issue/s. 

4.   Check out the coaching tips below to identify the one or two things you can do now to achieve more of the results you want. 

Coaching tips

1.   How much time and energy do you invest in communicating the broader purpose and goals for your team and outlining the opportunities and challenges? What will you have to stop doing to spend more time here? 

2.   Explore the standards and measures you use to determine what success looks like.  What are they based upon?  Are these valid in this context? Make these standards available for discussed so you and your team members reach a common understanding. 

3.   Take a look at the frequency, the how, when, where of the requests you are making.  How clear and specific are you?  What requests are you avoiding making? 

4.   Ask yourself what am I not sharing, saying or expressing. Unexpressed expectations often leave us with feelings of frustration.   

5.   Every time you co-ordinate actions in meetings, one on ones, ask yourself before you are done, have I checked for shared meaning?

6.   Really pay attention to the use of the word no in your vocabulary and how often you make offers to assist others.  Could these aspects of your speech contributing to over-commitment? 

Like most things in a system it is never just one thing that creates the outcomes we get, however targeting these high leverage areas for change can improve your results and your wellbeing quickly.