in Career Development

In Communication, Substance Comes First

Services world revolves around communication. In projects/initiatives, knowledge has to be transferred, issues have to discussed and expectations have to be managed.

A lot of young professionals I meet want to improve upon their communication skills. A few of them also think that good communication is all about having a great style, good language, impressive vocabulary and so on.

I tell them: In effective communication, substance comes first. Style without substance is just fluff, because it may impress others but can never change them for better. This means a few things:

Communication (written or verbal) is transfer of energy. If your communication does not transfer any positive energy (or worst yet, sucks energy from the other party), it is not going to work.

Substance comes first. Great communication has power to change others – but they only change when they are able to relate and find a deeper meaning.

Be yourself. Effective communication demands that you need to be yourself first. Ability to express your thoughts and ideas most meaningfully is a critical skill. You have to come out through your communication.

Style is a by-product. When you consistently deliver substance through your communication, have a positive impact and be yourself, style evolves. Style is not the goal, but a by-product.

Purpose strengthens communication. People express themselves on many things that don’t matter. When you have a strong purpose, your communication gains focus and becomes more effective. Goal of our communication is to serve a purpose and have a stronger impact.

These are important lessons I have learned from people I have worked with. These are the same lessons I share with people I work with.

Whether you are into sales, technology, project management, teaching, training or mentoring – remember, in effective communication, substance comes first!

Join in the conversation: What important lessons you have learned in effective communication? What advice would you like to share with young professionals who want to become better communicators? Tell us in the comments.

  1. One important lesson I have learnt in this contest of effective communication is that along with Substance, time taken to express the matter or information is very important. It matters a lot who the listener is and hence what level of substance (or matter or information) is to be conveyed, when and in how much of time.

    In some of the weekly status call with US clients, I learnt that QA Lead on other end, is interested to know the status in details, whereas sometimes if QA Director is present in the call, his interest is just the core substance or end result and no details. So many times to be effective in communication, the target audience is also important factor to be considered.
    Thanks for sharing this good post.

    Best Regards,
    Jay Chhaya

  2. Excellent post.

    Another feature related to a ‘substance’ oriented communication is respecting the fact that the person(s) with whom we are communicating will also be having certain important things to which they want to share with us. Hence, the communication should not be a one-sided communication. We should always be ready to hear and understand what the other person wants to say/convey. This can also be helpful in making our communication more effective.

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