Communication: we are almost always getting it wrong. But there is a solution.
“We simply improve our communication around here!” How many times have you heard that around the office? (Or in life for that matter)
Poor communication is the most common finding in failed projects, screwed up organizations and stressed out relationships.
In Robert Graham’s book (which I recommend) ‘Project Management – As if People Mattered’ he comments on his experience trying to tame the communications beast.
Just how many situations, project problems and cockpit errors have you experienced where someone finally says, “we just need to improve our communication around here”. It’s happened to you right? (well not to me, but in several decades of managing people and projects I have at least read an article on the topic of ‘poor communication’.)
Dr. Graham conjectured that poor communication is so common that there must be some kind of reward for it; otherwise it would ‘go away’. Digging deeper here are some of the rewards for poor communication – which will persist until the reward stops.
Poor communication pays off because it:
- Minimizes impact of poor planning (don’t let others know you do not know what you are doing)
- Cuts down on questions, permits faster decision making, minimizes objections
- Easier to deny what you said later on; preserves freedom to change your mind
- Often a technique for gaining and/or maintaining power
- Good technique to mask your true intent
- Helps you preserve mystique and hide insecurities
- Allows you to say two things at once
- Allows you to say “no” nicely
- Helps you avoid confrontation and anxiety
- Avoids the need to share credit for your ideas
- Encourages creativity; too much communication hampers thinking
- Helps minimize opposition and criticism.
Obviously we do not want to continue feeding this organizational dysfunction. What are some ways to eliminate these kinds of rewards for poor communication?