What if almost half of everything you say isn’t getting through? Actually, if you have young kids, as we do, you’re probably thinking that about half of it getting through is pretty darn good.
Well, maybe it’s debatable that it’s okay when you’re dealing with kids (although we don’t actually think so), but it definitely is not debatable when you’re dealing with adults in today’s cacophonous, crowded, cluttered communications world. Not if you want to accomplish something.
Here are the three primary reasons your message isn’t getting through – and what you can do to change that:
1. There’s an ever-increasing trust gap between us and our leaders.
Scandals surround our everyday lives, from fraudulent accounting, to steroid abuse, to privacy infringements. This trust gap plagues leaders at every level, whether in politics, sports, entertainment or business at large (just look at our top 10 worst list to see some examples). People no longer trust you simply on the basis of your leadership position. In fact, they may view you and your message with heightened skepticism because you are in a leadership role.
One tool we can use to engender trust is transparency. Transparency is intentional openness, accountability and accessible communication. Rather than taking a CYA, protect-and-defend approach, transparent leaders share perspectives, ask for help, demonstrate integrity, share emotions and invite questions.
2. We live in an attention economy, and we’re communicating with foreign currency.
Smartphones and social media have changed the way we listen. When you speak, from speeches to meetings, you may be seeing fewer faces and more tops of heads as people tune you out and stare down at their gadgets.
Stop making excuses for multi-tasking—whether by doing it or allowing it as part of our corporate culture! Studies show that a person who is interrupted takes up to 50 percent longer to accomplish a task and makes up to 50 percent more errors. What’s more, the very presence of a cell phone decreases trust, empathy and relationship-building. When people in your meeting are checking email or tweeting, they are missing something, period.
3. As a backlash to information, we want inspiration.
At a time when we don’t really trust the voices from the megaphones or microphones, and we’re inundated with more information than we have time to even skim (or even Skimm), what is it that will really catch our attention? What do we crave more than anything else? We are seeking inspiration. Desperately.
If you want to engineer change, if you want your thoughts and views to be adopted by masses of people, stop data dumping on them and become a communicator of ideas. When you inspire people, it is much easier to persuade them to buy into your vision and goals. They will become evangelists for your ideas and help you spread the news far beyond your own reach.