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Employee Communication - 29 April 2008

A husband and wife had been arguing all night and now weren't talking to each other. The husband was concerned; he needed to be awake at 4:30am to catch an important flight, and being a heavy sleeper, he usually relied on his wife to wake him. While his wife was in the bathroom, he wrote on a piece of paper: 'Wake me at 4:30am - I have a flight to catch'. He put the note on his wife's pillow, and then went to sleep.

When the husband woke up, he was startled to see it was 8:00am. Enraged that he'd missed his flight, he was about to give his wife a piece of his mind, when he spotted a hand-written note on his bedside cabinet. The note said: 'It's 4:30am - get up.'

That story highlights how we misconstrue communication. Communication isn't an event that occurs once you have your say. Communication is a two-way process where the aim should be for your message to be interpreted in the way it was intended.

To put communication in context, let's examine a typical relationship. A man can say "I love you" to his wife but the words alone are meaningless unless theyre accompanied by care and compassion, thoughtful surprises, hand-written cards, faith, support, romantic dinners, and many other actions which convey far more than "I love you" that he really does love her.

So what are the lessons for us at work? There are five:

  1. What you do communicates much more than what you say.
  2. The most important skill by far that a manager possesses is communication.
  3. Email isn't communication; it's just spam.
  4. Information isnt communication; it's just data.
  5. Speaking isn't even communication; it's just making noises with your mouth.


Listening is the most powerful method of communication we can use.

 

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