It’s Really Just a Tactic, Right?
Lets start by admitting that-- at its core-- over-communicating is just a Cover-Your-Ass tactic to mask our deficiencies. Here are a few reasons why:
- We’re essentially exposing that we don’t know what information the other parties really need or want
- We aren’t respecting others’ time, since they have to wade through our info onslaught to get what they need
- We’re creating more of an opportunity for misinterpretation and confusion, since presumably some of the information overage won’t be relevant or understood. (Plus, the recipients may wrongly assume that they are supposed to “do something” with the info they get)
- Our motives aren’t genuine because deep down, we do it to protect ourselves from the time when something falls through the cracks, and someone points the finger at you and says “You didn’t tell me”
Whether developing business continuity plans, or reacting to a crisis, you want people to know that when you send a message, it means something. When we hammer people incessantly with email and information, they tune us out. You’ve conditioned your audience to assume that what you have to say isn’t important. That’s not where you want to be.
Getting it Right
- Give it your best shot. Honing communication skills is pretty basic, but you do have to apply yourself.
- Do your homework. Take the time to understand what type of information your stakeholders need and expect.
- Ask. If in doubt, ask your stakeholders what they care about. (or educate them on what they should care about)
- Create open dialogue. People need to know they can openly tell you if the communication flow is working for them.
- Follow Up. Once communications start to flow, ask stakeholders if they feel comfortable with the frequency and amount of information they are getting