When communicating your message, don’t let familiarity breed indifference.
“Lack of communication.” How often do we hear, or even use, this lame excuse? The 1967 film Cool Hand Luke satirized the term for years with this classic line:
“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
We often think that communication means that we’re doing the talking. Society is filled with people who talk a lot, but don’t say much. Perhaps some of you think of your spouse, your working relationships, or the political arena, and no wonder. Familiarity can breed indifference if we don’t care enough to risk asking questions, or consider our personal agenda in the process of communication. Instead we often just chalk up a poor experience to, well, “lack of communication.”
The problem is that we don’t do anything differently. Ambiguity is part of the game of avoiding responsibility and accountability. If I’m told that I need to have a project done by the end of the week, there are hundreds of possibilities, and often it still doesn’t get done. Lack of specificity in communicating can easily create dissatisfaction. I recently heard a speaker on a radio interview give an insightful analogy: Expectations minus reality equals disappointment.
Many years ago, I experienced this type of deep disappointment in a social setting where I was asked to introduce my services to a group of people. I had done this many times. My associate and I were exceptionally well prepared for this encounter. We had all our material ready to communicate to eager prospects for our non-traditional, guaranteed program. Then we hit a snag. It doesn’t really matter what it was, because all of us have experienced something similar.
What does matter is what went on for me mentally: How I related to the situation and what I’ve learned from it. After all, how I respond under pressure is how the real me reacts.
In this situation, I chose not to communicate for some of these reasons:
1. I was uncomfortable.
2. I feared stepping on the audience’s toes.
3. I didn’t want to take any risks.
Can you relate?
Some of the prices we paid for this failure to communicate were:
1. Missed expectations.
2. Lack of action (nothing happened).
3. Deference to other people’s agendas.
Our politically correct viewpoint and unwillingness to take a risk limited our ability to communicate and develop relationships based on character, trust, openness, and vulnerability.
Let's touch on risk-taking a minute. If you think of risk-taking in a negative light, as if it were unwise or dangerous then you need to re-frame risk in the positive - as an opportunity to succeed - not fail. Risk-taking is a learning opportunity; it shows confidence, leadership and helps you stand out from a crowd. Risk-taking helps you overcome fear of failure and gets you out of your comfort zone so you can take action to seize your dreams. And that leads to the most important part of risk-taking - do your homework - visualize the specific result you aim to achieve and follow-through with implementation. It task the "risk" out of risk-taking.
Returning to our failure and what I learned about bridging this communications gap, I’d recommend that you:
• Dare to risk — to be controversial.
• Take a stand in your life
• Be who you really are — and you’ll learn more about who you really want to be.
Although this won’t be easy, the reward will well be worth it.