One of the things we regularly remind our clients is that everything is a communication, everything . . . including your silence.
In your world, do you tend to overcommunicate or undercommunicate?
In our 25+ years of coaching and consulting, we’ve listened to many people who are dissatisfied with their relationships because of the lack of communication.
People cite various reasons for not communicating, including:
- I’m too busy.
- I don’t have a specific decision that I can communicate yet.
- I’m unsure of what I want to communicate.
- I don’t want to overwhelm them with communication.
All of these reasons are fair, and yet, lack of communication can create an unproductive and tense environment.
For example, when there is silence from leadership, people make up stories about what must be happening behind the scenes, they aren’t able to focus on their work, and they can become resentful. When there is silence from a family member or friend, people can get caught up in believing there is a rift when often, there is nothing of the kind.
It’s important that you consider what your silence or withdrawal is communicating to others.
Remember, the absence of communication
is a communication—
only you have no idea
what people are “hearing” from you.
Recent studies by Francis Flynn and Chelsea Lide, at The Graduate School of Stanford Business, tell us that while many people see overcommunication as a burden for employees, their findings show that undercommunication is more detrimental.
Flynn is quoted as saying,
Overcommunication may be seen as annoying and a nuisance, but it’s not seen as a damning flaw for a leader, partly because a leader’s overcommunication is seen as an attempt to benefit you, even if it is misguided, as opposed to an attempt to undermine you or simply ignore you.
The article goes on to say that, “employees judged their undercommunicating leaders as lacking empathy and, in turn, leadership ability.” We would suggest that colleagues, friends, and family feel the same and might replace “leadership ability” with “relationship ability.”
Whether you increase the frequency of your 1:1s (a good rule of thumb is 2-4 times per month), start sending weekly updates to the team, or create 10-minute morning huddles with your group, it’s important to make those connections so that people feel they matter. When people feel they matter, they’re more motivated, engaged, and successful.
This week, consider what your silence may be communicating to your employees. If you want to increase your effectiveness, think about what additional communication from you, could look like. And then do that!
Let us know what works for you!
~ Linda, Stephanie, and Heather