Three truths about communication which are accepted by most:
- Non-verbal communication constitutes 70-80% of the message (tone and body language to be precise).
- Human beings are extraordinarily good at perceiving that which is authentic and that which is not.
- Leaders lead through the power of their communication capability.
Every project manager I’ve ever met, when asked about the core skill required that distinguishes the average from the exceptional in their profession, will talk about relationship or stakeholder management, or some other phrase which basically means communications. Because of the nature of our work, there is always something to say to the group involved in the project or indeed the stakeholders at large. The nature of the message might vary, in some cases be more about the current process rather than perhaps anything which is significant in terms of the message…but there is always something.
But what do you do when the project you’re involved in is complex, and highly confidential…when your ability to deliver any sort of message is constrained by your client…and you’re left with a situation where the team knows something’s happening but your ability to give them any clarity is non-existent.
What I’ve learnt is that giving an opinion is as valuable…an opinion based on your experience or your perspective, not necessarily hard fact or evidence, but your knowledge of them and of the situation.
It seems to me that when we think about communication in the business world, we automatically focus on the flow of information and the sharing of some kind of knowledge. This is very different from communications in our private lives where the sharing of information is often regarded as a very poor second to the sharing of an emotion or a feeling.
The reality is that in periods of stress, our need for authenticity in communications is heightened. And that authentic voice is not so easily heard in the delivery of factual information as it is in the sincere and open delivery of an opinion.