Communication in an uncertain age

 

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Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

 

The ultimate goal of communication is not just to share information but to build community. The aim is to create unity among disparate entities. When we share information, we hope to reach a mutual understanding and agreement so we can work or live together. It is thus a social function.

In a world filled with uncertainty, this becomes more challenging. As technology alters how business is done and even springs up entirely new industries, it raises questions about how best to get a team to still function well. The response is often to impose policies and write up a rule book stipulating how everyone is to behave. This will only foster alienation and make your team member(s) more disengaged.

There is a better way. Here are some suggestions:

1. Prioritize human relationships. Whatever the organizational context, people are a priority. Technologies, products, an environment can be altered. At the end of the day, however, it is employees, customers and other stakeholders are the true focus of the whole enterprise. The relationships we have established are helpful in managing changes that may need to be made in response to external factors.

2. Be clear in all interactions and discussions. Communication is basically the exchange of information between different parties. The more specific it is, the better. Any idea or message that needs to be shared with anyone, within or outside the organization should be concise. It helps get your message across quickly to the recipient, without wasting their time in trying to make out your meaning.

3. Maintain a transparent environment. This builds trust among everyone. Secrecy breeds mistrust and would further heighten uncertainty. A context where concerns and opportunities can be freely expressed would help team members perform better.

4. Policies are good, but not too much. Give people room to experiment. Policies should be treated as guidelines, rather than the creativity- and innovation-stifling straitjackets they sometimes are. You never can tell where the next great idea or concept would spring from. You surely don’t want to kill it with ‘policy’ before it’s even born.

 

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