Effective communication is challenging when complexity and uncertainty are elevated. Decision makers want the best information possible. After all, they want to do something but, at the same time, avoid hurting people. Real or perceived, you get one shot at professional credibility.
Decision makers allocate resources. Those resources are normally time or money, but the commitment is irrevocable in the sense that another allocation must be performed to reverse it. Think about buying a house or car.
Technically Trained Professionals
Technically trained professionals are trusted advisors. We provide information. Our role is neither to persuade nor manipulate the decision makers. Let the data and the analysis stand on their own.
Technically trained professionals are not decision makers. If you are doing analysis, authoring reports, or presenting a PowerPoint, your job is as an information gatherer and trusted advisor. If you are not doing any of that and instead listening to others present information, you might be a decision maker.
Some People Intentionally Lie
It is not politically correct, but some people lie. They lie to get what they want or get what they think is best for the situation. Usually, they think the lie will not be detected, or there will be limited consequences when caught.
A simple example of this type of lie is intentionally failing to correct an edit.
Some People Lie in the Name of Persuasion
Most communication training comes from a marketing and sales perspective. The viewpoint is short-term and making a sale. The perspective is to do whatever it takes to connect and please the buyer.
Some technically trained professionals take this approach to heart. In the name of persuasion, they show one audience some pieces of information and other audiences slightly different versions. However, decisions involving elevated levels of complexity and uncertainty require time and pass through multiple reviews.
Regardless of intent, your credibility is shot if you are perceived to tell different stories to different audiences.
Some People Do Not Understand
Many technically trained professionals simply do not know how to communicate effectively. That means they stumble when situations involve many parts, and there are many unknowns. We often default to attributing this to young professionals. It is simply not true. Many old (experienced) professionals are just as guilty when the stakes are high.
A structured approach to effective communication is needed.
Communicating with FINESSE
Effective communication is challenging when complexity and uncertainty are elevated. Decision makers want the best information possible. After all, they want to do something but, at the same time, avoid hurting people. Trusted advisors need to find, learn, and use a structured communication approach. Whether real or perceived, you get one shot at professional credibility.
The illustration "I Cannot Tell A Lie" and excerpts from this article are taken from JD Solomon’s book, "Communicating Reliability, Risk, and Resiliency to Decision Makers, How to Get Your Boss’s Boss to Understand." The book is available on Amazon.
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