Kaleidoscope 30/40: How Can I Communicate Effectively?

Kaleidoscope 30/40: How Can I Communicate Effectively?
I'm not feeling confident that those puzzle pieces actually fit together DALL-E....

Hello friends!

Very early in my career — I was 24 — I was taught a lesson that stayed with me through this day.

I was eager, smart, and, thanks to hard work & good luck, I was reporting to the CEO of a 400 person company and working with primarily with 50-somethings on the executive team.

Basically, I was killing it at work. But, my ideas often weren't well received in meetings, despite being superior.

Thankfully, a mentor pulled me aside and put it to me in clear english: 

Rebecca, do you realize that when you (offer up your idea) all they're thinking is: Who does she think she is? Why didn't I think of that? or Is my worth / job / seniority at stake here? 

In other words, even though I was communicating clearly, I was not communicating effectively.

How Can I Communicate Effectively?

This is a topic that we could debate for years. And, remember, I'm not offering up advice here.

I've found that there is no singular right answer for how to communicate effectively.

Even story, which many of you know I love and have deep experience with, is not always the answer.

In the story above, I found that the right way for me to communicate was largely behind closed doors. Rather than share ideas live, in a way that some on the team found threatening, sharing those same ideas with team members, one-on-one was wildly effective and enabled me to achieve my ambitions.

It was a clear case of the most fundamental communication breakdown: emotional disconnect. But it's not the only kind of communication breakdown.

Communication can break down because of:

  • How they feel
  • What they understand
  • What they do (or don't do) based on their feeling & understanding

These breakdowns tend to be cascading — in other words, if you don't get the first one right, its really hard to achieve the others.

In our very first kaleidoscope, I talked about how I should go to bed angry.

Fundamentally, this is because when I'm all worked up and tired, I get stuck in whatever emotion I am in — and without changing that emotional tone, its unlikely that I will be able to hear new information or earnestly commit to new actions.

I need to sleep to break the cycle and enter a new emotional state.

So when I am trying to communicate — or failing to communicate effectively — I ask myself where the breakdown is – feeling, understanding or action.

And then I take that strategy-level insight and attempt to change my tactics to better meet the shortfall.

Until tomorrow,

PS — Tomorrow marks the last 10-question countdown (oh my)! I saved my absolute favorite for last... AND I have a fun announcement to share!