Communication is a challenge in all organizations and schools are no different. Communication hasn’t taken place just because something has been said. In fact, communication isn’t about what has been said, but rather what was heard. Moving into a new context which is roughly twice the size of my previous school has been humbling in this regard.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on communication over the course of the last week. What people hear is extremely vulnerable to a multitude of outside influences. Previous experiences, unstated expectations, and personal preferences deeply color what is heard. This can result in variations of a message that result in confusion within an organization. People are complex and unique making effective communication with large groups an incredible challenge. My reflection on the topic of communication has led me to the following conclusions.
- Communication cannot happen without a foundation of trust
- Trust takes time to develop and cannot be forced
- What is heard is colored by previous experiences and is unique to the individual
- Everyone has different expectations/preferences about what should be shared, the frequency of communication, and the methodology for sharing information
- People hear with their eyes and not just their ears. Talk is cheap and our actions communicate more than our words.
As leaders, we must continually reflect on our communication and continually inquire to better understand what is being heard. Many times we wrongly focus on crafting the perfect message and do not ever consider the different lenses that color the message that each individual takes away. I hope to participate in a continual cycle of listening to my team in order to become a better communicator and ultimately a better leader.