The Soul of a Project #1: The Paradox of Communications

by Gary Monti on January 25, 2012

A new series “The Soul of a Project” begins with this blog – “The Paradox of Communications”. This is something near and dear to me since it is one of the cornerstones of my consulting practice. The common ground with previous blogs is getting the job done.  There is another component as well, one about which I have strong feelings. It centers on the phrase, “soft side of management” and similar statements.

Frankly, I rankle at that phrase, since it has at times been associated with “easy,” or “superfluous,” and, for those of us with testosterone coursing through our veins, it can be considered “a woman thing.” To borrow from Charlie Brown, “Arrrrrrgh!”

It would be greatly appreciated if anyone who actually validated those assumptions to speak out and comment accordingly. Experience has taught that sustained, constructive relationships takes work, a lot of which centers around communications. For that matter, brief, non-repeating communications requires a lot of work. Ever have to deal with a retail clerk who didn’t understand your needs?

The challenge with good communications is reflected in the paradoxes present:

  • Leaders are disciplined and absorb great deals of information, building a mental structure from which they work. The irony, though, is the connection is made with the stakeholder population by speaking from the gut.
  • The spoken word and text are serial in nature. However, good communicators work multiple channels simultaneously.
  • Even when communications is tightly restricted, e.g., Morse code, which is just dots and dashes, those receiving could identity the sender and their mood.
  • Good communicators survive fact-checks. Good communication, though, is more than listing facts.
  • Listening is different than being a human tape recorder. We phase in and out of conversations. Regardless, good communications that are highly accurate occur all the time.
  • Perfect documentation is a goal to strive for, one that can never be achieved. Yet, good teams stay connected and solve problems even when working at a distance.

This is a good place to stop and ask the questions, “When you are effectively communicating do you know what is going on? If so, do you know what that comprises? And, just how do you know? What evidence is there?”

Asked another way, “What does the flow look like when communications are going well?” Give it some thought. I’ll see you next week!

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