The advent of more communication tools—texting, email, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Skype—does not ensure you are effective. It may, however, provide more and better ways to be ineffective.
Ineffective communication carries a cost. The cost may be misunderstanding, which leads to emotional stress. In your business, it can mean a loss of time, money, or reputation.
This scene takes place in the business world, every day, everywhere. Two people, both sure they are right, waiting for the other to act. It is said that 90% of business is communication. Effective communication is good business.
The three elements defined here combine to provide a prism through which to improve all of your communications, and correspondingly, reduce stress.
Deliver the Coffee
The greater the consequence of success or failure, the greater the urgency. The success of a business meeting may hinge on a cup of coffee. Say you schedule a 6 a.m. breakfast meeting with a prospective client who has agreed to meet, provided you shuttle them to the airport afterward. Failure to serve breakfast in time may turn the deal colder than that untouched cup of coffee that came too late.
Did you communicate urgency and consequence to the person responsible for arranging breakfast?
Rule of thumb: Establish the degree of urgency by defining consequences.
Ownership of Outcomes
Make It So
The degree of ownership you—or your assignee—accept to ensure that a task is completed in full, is defined by urgency. The greater the urgency, the more important it is to establish responsibility for the action that must take place.
In the previous example—essentially coffee, juice, eggs, and toast—someone must do the legwork to locate a reliable source of breakfast and have it delivered before dawn. Before dawn? What about keys to get in? One must take complete ownership of the results. Delegation relies upon a combination of clarity and commitment.
Accountability requires confirmation. “Didn’t you get my email?” Have you ever said those words, or been on the receiving end, punctuated by a sad shake of the head. “No.”
True responsibility for outcomes requires complete ownership of these results.
David Ogilvy, the “Father of Advertising,” listed 10 pieces of advice in an internal memo to employees on how to write. It was really more than that. It was on how to get results. In rule #10, Ogilvy states, “If you want ACTION, don't write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”
Rule of thumb: Obtain ownership, a commitment to own the actions that will result in success.
Write for Them
Tailor your communications to your audience. Your audience will either listen—or they won’t. If they don’t listen, the urgency will vanish. Rather than state, “I need your help,” try, “Your assistance is necessary to help close the deal with our client.” Your audience will embrace urgency and ownership when your communication is focused on them.
Rule of thumb: Frame your communications for your audience; and listen to confirm they grasp the urgency and accept accountability.
Urgency, ownership, and audience. Address them each in every communication and you’ll model an effective stress-reduction program for all to follow.