Category Archives: communication

Community, Communion, and the Human Side of Communication

Any time two or more people work in tandem, they create a human system.  And that system will be only as effective as the patterns of communication that support it. For communication is the means by which diverse talents can be directed toward a shared goal, the way a collection of individual I’s can be transformed into a cohesive and capable we.

In a very real sense, communication is what makes coherent, collective action possible.

But while communication allows us to express ourselves and gather information, it also builds ties of association and relationship. It draws individuals and groups together into a shared community of thought and discussion, if only for the duration of a conversation.

Communication can be understood, then, as the process of making things common. Linguistically related to “common,” “communion,” and “community,” communication can be viewed as the means by which we make our internal thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions available to those around us for external discussion and action. It is the way we share of ourselves and have access to the experience of others.

This community-building function is of great importance in the workplace. For only to the degree that leaders are willing to enter into “communion” with their employees will they be able to establish effective patterns of association. If they hold themselves above or apart from employees, communication will inevitably falter, for the very foundation on which it rests will be undermined and unsound.

Effective communication, then, depends as much on what leaders feel or don’t feel about their employees, as it does on what they say or don’t say. It depends as much on the values, beliefs, and attitudes they hold as the structures, systems, and approaches they build.

Routine interaction may involve countless utilitarian exchanges. But at the end of the day, communication is a quintessentially human endeavor that involves much more than the surface-level transmission of facts and information.

No matter how large organizations might grow, then, and no matter how remote and removed various parties might seem from each other, communication must always be approached as a matter of one human being connecting with another. Anything less will fail to fully leverage the human potential available and inherent in the system as a whole.

Perception and Challenge of Communicating Appreciation

Sufficiently recognizing and appreciating the efforts of employees poses challenges at all levels of the organizational chart. Everyone from vice presidents to fry cooks say that they hear about every small mistake they make, but only rarely are told when they have done a good job. This is due, in large part, to distortions of… Continue Reading

Vision, Communication and the Front-Line Employee

Vibrant and meaningful vision is intimately tied to leaders’ dreams hopes for the future. To be effective, though, vision cannot, remain at the level of senior leadership. Only to the extent that it is communicated throughout an organization and collectively embraced does vision become relevant to the work of the organization and begin exerting influence… Continue Reading

Communication: What Do You Believe?

“In no other area have intelligent men and women worked harder or with greater dedication than…on improving communications in our organizations. Yet communications has proved as elusive as the Unicorn.” These words are as true today as they were in 1973 when Peter Drucker first wrote them. Communication is an area in which many organizations… Continue Reading

Below-the-Line Inhibitors of Productive Communication

Many factors can inhibit the establishment of conditions that tend to characterize superior-functioning organizations .Leaders’ own below-the-line beliefs, values, and assumptions, however, can be particularly problematic. Consider, for example, the following: Unexamined assumptions that one is already communicating sufficiently with employees A failure to establish formal mechanisms to assess the quality of organizational communication systems… Continue Reading

Listening: Mastery of Our Own Self-Centered Tendencies

All of us listen. From morning to night we listen to spouses, kids, clients, friends, coworkers, and employees. But the very fact that we do it so much fools us into believing that we do it well. The reality, of course, is that our superficial and often scattered attention is no more listening than communication… Continue Reading

Conversation: Shared Frames of Reference

As organizations grow, they become increasingly reliant on one-directional forms of communication such as memos, newsletters, and speeches. These can be quite efficient in some respects, but the complexity, nuance, and detail they are able to convey is inherently limited. To clarify finer levels of understanding, then, conversation is needed. The ask-listen-discuss cycle of two-way… Continue Reading

Content Communication, Relational Communication (2 of 2)

Content communication — the whats, whens and whys of day-to-day interaction — is extremely seductive in its tangibility. But leaders cannot afford to underestimate the impact of relational communication in the functioning of any human system.    To understand the enormity of this influence, put yourself in the shoes of a woman working in an… Continue Reading

Content Communication, Relational Communication (1 of 2)

Communication can be divided into two broad categories: content and relational. Content is the what of any message. It is the facts and figures, the ideas and opinions that we transmit through e-mails, conversations, memos, or notes on the bulletin board. It is anything that can be expressed in words. Relational communication pertains to the… Continue Reading

Into the Void: Employee Efforts and the Leadership Feedback

Many organizations struggle to convey the rationale of organizational decisions as reliably as the operational details involved. A similar challenge concerns the feedback employees receive on the results of their efforts. Employees often say that they are given very little information about the impact of the day-in, day-out work they complete. They may be told… Continue Reading

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