in Communication, Leadership, Leading People

Communication: Too Direct or Too Subtle?

Michael Wade explores communication dynamics in organizations with his post “When Direct is Needed”. He says,

The practitioners of subtle don’t realize that the folks who practice extreme directness don’t take hints and aren’t in the market for nuance. They want the message without the bark on. If you haven’t told them directly, you haven’t told them.

When it comes to managerial effectiveness and organization leadership, this is such an important issue. I have seen leaders hiding their real intentions behind too indirect clichés like “Lets focus on our key priorities for this quarter” or “people are our real assets” when their actions reveal something totally different. They end up giving vague (and often ‘good-for-the-ears’) messages that don’t mean anything tangible in reality. When people are expecting business leaders to be direct, such inflated statements can be very damaging.

On the other extreme, I have seen leaders who are direct but often fail in sharing the perspective and listen. While they use clear and definitive statements, they also end up enforcing their ideas on others.

Managers are naturally inclined to be either too direct or too indirect. They operate in a default state.

What do people want? People definitely prefer direct/clear communication and clear expectations along with a perspective on how their actions fit into a larger picture. People also want regular feedback on their actions.

Leaders maximize their ability to influence when they are conscious about balancing both. Ability to make a conscious choice about communication style and not being driven blindly by our default inclination is crucial.

Bottom line: Always be direct in your communication. Relentlessly clarify expectations. Share feedback frequently. Never try to avoid important messages by hiding behind the clichés.

– – – – –

Stay tuned to QAspire Blog: Subscribe via RSS or Email, Join our Facebook community or Follow us on Twitter.