Dialing in Communication 🏹
Mar 10, 2023 3:01 pm
Whew, things have been busy for me the past few weeks. I'm getting ready for my next year of beekeeping, building raised garden beds, working on reko.day, and lots of things for my clients.
Speaking of which, a situation with one of my clients reminded me of something that I tend to forget regularly and I should know better by now, and that is—adjust your communication to the person.
I know, it's a revelation, but I find I'm not alone in how easy it is to unintentionally mess this up.
So I had a client that wanted me to build a software team and bring the product they produced to market for profit. Now this is something my client had not ever done before so there would be a lot to this. As we neared the day we were signing up our first users, we shared the news with the senior leadership who brought me in.
They had no idea.
Let me clarify a bit. They had no idea we were building a product, no idea we had a marketing approach, no idea we had figured out how to invoice and handle accounting, and no idea we had the legal team ready with contracts and terms.
The whole engagement I had communicated with this senior leader about these things, but I had done it wrong. Wrong also included explicit updates they requested.
I suspect a lot of you feel this pain.
So, what should I have done?
When you talk to someone they will often tell you how they prefer to communicate in the first two minutes. I don't mean that they'll do this explicitly, but rather, in the first two minutes they will talk about the things they prefer to talk about in the way they prefer to talk about them.
Some people, for example, will happily spend a call on, "Small talk." They prefer a more relational form of communication. Others will start to share ideas they've been having. These folks tend to be more abstract and like to brainstorm with what futures could exist. Others are factual and want to keep things on script.
Most folks are a mix of these.
What's tricky in many company environments is that while as people we may be relational and abstract, our job requires us to muddle through being factual. This leads to a mismatch. A leader must ask for a factual update, but it's not something they deeply engage with since it doesn't align to their preferred styles.
The trick with this is identifying these traits in people, and learning how to tweak your messages and materials to the person. For example, if I have a client who is relational, my material will likely focus on who we worked with and their sentiments while I sprinkle in essential facts they need. An abstract leader I may whet their appetite with wild possibilities in the future and strategic opportunities before getting into the boring data. The factual manager will appreciate the regularity of a template, and quick access to underlying data.
So there you have it, a quick primer into one of the ways I know, yet neglect, to help ensure smooth communication.