When I was a child, at every birthday party we played broken telephone. And I’m sure you know how that goes. You all sit in a row; the one person talks and the next one whispers it into the other person or other child’s ear. And it goes around in circles until the last person comes out with a word. And the word or sentence or phrase will be nothing, nothing, like what the first person said. It will be an entirely garbled message.

Now that process, that broken telephone scenario, happens in most organisations. In my 12 years of experience as a coach, I have seen repeatedly that communication is the primary misalignment and dysfunction in organisations. People just do not communicate to understand. People do not communicate sufficiently.

Perhaps you share a message with your team once and you think everybody has understood it. The challenge is that when you are communicating, people aren’t necessarily in the headspace to absorb that message right then and there. They might be busy with something totally different. Plus, we need to repeat items over and over.

Trust me, I have never heard an employee complain that they have been over-communicated. Never! Actually, quite the opposite. So, if you want to dial up your communication, it’s increasing it by eight-fold. And using different strategies so that people can hear your communication when they are ready to take it in.

Remember, it’s a hybrid workplace. Just because you’re communicating now, doesn’t mean the person is listening and available. So, use all the possible tools and techniques that you can. Use email, use apps if you can. Create infographics, create storyboards, create videos for your team.

Some people like reading things. Some people like hearing things, others like seeing the visuals. You’ve got to really look like you speak to your team in all those three languages. And then always check-in that your communication has landed with your team as you intended to, as that reduces miscommunication and in time solves problems along the line because you think you are being heard and understood and you aren’t.

Over to you for sharing your comments and experiences.

What are your thoughts on avoiding the broken telephone conundrum?

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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