Communication is simple as ABC, or is it?

When you research the definition of communication it simply says ‘Communication is the giving or exchanging of information and the art or technique of using words effectively to impart information or ideas.’ Sounds simple enough right?

Another school of thought questions the effectiveness of certain communication in that true communication is only delivered when a message is firstly understood, then acknowledged and finally reacted to or replied to by the receiving party.

Communication is, in fact, a two-way street and whilst the definition seems simple enough, in my own personal experience and opinion we do seem to struggle with communication in today’s society.

Maybe it’s because of the multitude of channels we have to choose from today to communicate. I mean the options are endless with email, text messages, social media, Facebook, messenger, Twitter and the list goes on and on.

As a mum of two beautiful children I have to confess communication as a technique or life skill and furthermore our children’s ability to do so, absolutely terrifies me! Why? Because today it feels as though the majority of children spend far less time talking and much more time in the written word and not just written but abbreviated.. LOL! Hahahaha!

Values of friendship and integrity

Recently I was asked to facilitate a HTG values workshop with a team who had some issues with not only communication but with character, friendship and integrity.

The problem it seemed was that one person’s view of a specific situation was completely different to that of another. Seems normal right? Even human! Because we are only human after all but this is where not only communication came into play, but where a set of values as a core foundation are essential especially within a business environment.

Values should be a guide to decision making, to conduct and performance to ensure people are all on the same journey. The problem seemed through a lack of communication, a number of different personalities and different views of our values weren’t even contemplated therefore the situation was impacting people in almost every way.

Now as the owner of people development at HTG, I could’ve easily just run a workshop to uncover, communicate and share our values but would the lessons or learnings truly land with each individual? Hard to tell but the actual reason the problem started was an ineffective ability to communicate where a message is sent, received and responded to.

I wanted to be sure we worked together effectively to not only communicate but to learn more about each other and how to approach things moving forward. The key to the workshop was much more about them than it was about me so rather than me presenting I decided to flip it on its head.

Team nerves walking in one by one

The team walked one by one looking slightly nervous as you never really do know what you are in for in my workshops. No sooner were people seated were they straight back up. Everyone was given a number between one and five and were asked to move into their specific teams. Each team was then given a set of instructions that went something along the lines of 5 teams, 5 values, 5 weeks, 5 different concepts for 5 minutes.

All of a sudden there was excitement in the room. They randomly picked their value and their week and were given 10 minutes to brainstorm (communicate creatively). When they came back into the room connections had been made, ideas had been created, relationships were starting to build. The following week we started the values presentations and I was exceptionally proud of the work, effort and the lengths the teams had gone to to bring their idea and their value to life.

Communication turned into multiple opportunities

You may be thinking… that wasn’t that spectacular. But let’s evaluate the exercise. What could’ve been one simple values workshop turned into multiple opportunities to reinforce the importance of our values. What could have been one way communication from me to them turned into multiple opportunities for them to create, build and execute their ideas together. Finally the respect that was gained as individuals, as mini teams and as a large team was priceless. They practiced the art of effective communication and then supported their peers to do the same.

Does that mean that communication is sorted? That we don’t have to touch on our values moving forward? Absolutely not. It is a constant reinvention of bringing the importance of communication and values to life. We just like to add a little fun and laughter to make it seriously memorable.

My final thought, communication is never just as simple as ABC because we’re all different. It is in that difference that lies the beauty of being creative and encouraging people to come together to deliver an outcome. There is nothing you can’t fix when you communicate effectively.