How are you making the CHOICE to communicate effectively

Face-to-Face conversations, emails, texts, phone calls, presentations…we are constantly communicating with each other in our business and personal lives.

And with each communication, we make an impression. So how can we be more inclined to make a positive one?

Well, it’s all a matter of CHOICE. Or rather, the six steps that this word represents!  While you may not consider these steps on every communication you do, for those times when it really matters to make a positive impression, and especially when we need to build a communication plan, it is best to think them through.

Here are the six steps involved, and a few examples for each step.

1. C is for Conscious:

We first need to be conscious of why we are communicating. Is there a problem we are trying to address? A relationship we are trying to build? An opportunity we are seeking? Are we trying to keep people in the loop? Give them new training? Who are the stakeholders we are trying to affect? We need to be intentional about why we want to communicate in the first place and to whom.

Example 1: Tom says, “I’m really not clear on all the expectations my boss has of me.”

Example 2: We have a new strategic plan that the employees don’t yet know.

2. H is for Hopeful:

What do we hope to accomplish with this communication? This is when you can think about “If this communication goes well, this will happen.” Or make that “When this communication goes well, this will happen!” Beginning with the end in mind is key to effective communication.

Example 1: Here’s what Tom hopes to get:

“My boss and I are aligned on all her expectations of me.”

Example 2: Here’s what corporate leadership wants:

“The employees are aware of the new strategic plan and how their work fits i

3. O is for Open

Now is the time to be open to different ways of communicating. What might work in your situation? Rarely is there only one option.

What possible ways are available or attractive to you? What are you open to trying or doing? Sometimes we get stale in the way we communicate, so it is important to think about different ways to do so – and what might be considered appropriate given your target audience.

Example 1: “My boss and I are aligned on her expectations of me.” 

Some options for Tom to consider on how to communicate to his boss:

    a)  Schedule a one-on-one to review in person all the expectations and talk through the differences.

    b)  Schedule a one-on-one and review only the expectations that are not clear

    c)  Write an email outlining what you think the expectations are, and ask for confirmation

Example 2: “The employees are aware of the new strategic plan and how their work fits in.”

Some options for how to communicate the strategy:

    a)  Have a company wide meeting via video – that everyone can see the same day – to announce the plans and then ask each manager to follow-up as they see best with their direct reports.

    b)  Roll out the new plans team by team, organization by organization – top leadership team, then division leadership teams, then teams/organizations underneath them mandated to have meetings to review the plans

    c)  Send out emails with the new plans as well as hard copies. Ask each person to follow up with their management for how their work fits in and if/how their priorities change based on the new plans.

4. I is for Informed

What information do you need to gather about how to communicate in this situation?  For instance, I had a client who hated Voicemails. He would rarely respond to them. For the people who were not informed about this, they were left thinking he was purposely ignoring them. Had they gathered information to know that this person would respond much quicker to an email, they would have been better prepared to decide how to communicate. Another example is if you are communicating via a presentation, you may need to get information about the possible venues you are considering.

Example 1: “My boss and I are aligned on her expectations of me.” 

Information Tom might want to gather:

    a)  Ask coworkers how they have best communicated with the boss regarding expectations – what worked for them?

    b)  Find out the boss’s availability to meet

    c)  Ask the boss’s secretary what communication styles the boss prefers

Example 2: “The employees are aware of the new strategic plan and how their work fits in.” 

Information leadership might want to gather:

    a)  What has worked in the past to roll out strategy? What hasn’t worked as well?

    b)  What technology is available for broadcasting at different corporate locations?

    c)  What can the communications department create to help deploy the strategy?

5. C is for Conclusive

Of all your options, and given the information you gathered, what is your conclusion about how, when, and where to communicate? For some situations, we may think of a single way of communicating, and for other situations, we may need to communicate in multiple ways. This is when you build your communication plan.

Example 1: “My boss and I are aligned on her expectations of me.” 

Here’s what Tom concluded:

After gathering information about his boss’s style, availability, and what worked for others, Tom decided to schedule a one-on-one to discuss all expectations, sending what he thinks they are in advance for review.

Example 2: “The employees are aware of the new strategic plan and how their work fits in.”

Here’s what the company leadership team concluded:

With new technology installed over the past year, they decided to try to broadcast via video and then give a deadline of when it had to be reviewed with key people in each division. They also decided to have the communications department create materials to better explain each of the strategies.

6. E is for Executed

A plan is only a plan unless it is executed. And then tracked, measured and adjusted. Did it work? If so, that’s great. But if not, what else needs to be done to make sure the communication hits its mark and gets you the result you hoped would happen?

Example 1: “My boss and I are aligned on her expectations of me.” 

Here’s what happened:

Tom wrote up his expectations and emailed them to his boss. She wrote him back questions about some of them, and he answered them as best as he could. When they met, they talked through the expectations that were still not clear and came out with an aligned list. They agreed to track it quarterly and make adjustments as needed.

Example 2: “The employees are aware of the new strategic plan and how their work fits in.” 

Here’s what the company leadership team did:

They broadcasted on January 1, and expected the divisions to review it within the month. In March, they sent out an employee survey to ask how well people knew the strategy and how their work fit in. They reviewed the survey and worked with division leadership to better communicate in places where the survey results were not optimal.

These examples give brief overviews of what might be done in these situations. In each case, other options may have been considered, and the choices may have been different. The key point is to make sure to take each step into account when planning.

By: Denise Yosafat / yourthoughtpartner.com

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