Paint a Picture
Communication can be tricky! Here’s one way to make sure you are on the same page with the person you’re talking to.
A few years ago I was having a problem with one of the leaders in my church. We seemed to be continually miscommunicating, it was beginning to break down our relationship. We’d have a conversation or made a decision and it seemed like my friend would go off and do the exact opposite.
Now at one point he approached me and said “Dave, I’m starting to lose trust in you. It seems like every time we discuss something or make a decision; you go and do the opposite”. Well it was pretty obvious that we had to sit down and talk.
So, we got together for breakfast one time and we realized we were using the same word but with a different meaning. It turns out that we both placed a really high value on team leadership, but we had very different pictures of what that looked like. Now this was back in the 90s when Chicago Bulls were in there hay day and winning all the Championships.
So my friend said “Dave, here’s how I see it, we’re the Bulls and you’re Michael Jordan, and our job is to get you the ball so we can score”. And I said “That explains everything, because I don’t have that picture at all, I don’t think of it that way. If we’re the Bulls, then I am Phil Jackson, and my job is to get everyone in the right place and working together so the team can win”.
Now clarifying those pictures helped us break through the problem and move forward together. I learned a very valuable lesson. Sometimes you can be using the same words and mean very different things. Differences don’t always happen because someone is being irresponsible, or because they lack integrity, sometimes it’s actually, just a simple misunderstanding.
Take the time to clarify key terms ahead of time with your people, paint pictures. Don’t just assume that the other person is using your definition of a word. The time you take on the front end, to make sure you are communicating clearly, will save you both time and headaches later.
I’m learning that to actually accomplish and effect change in my executive role begins with first taking the TIME to think and visualize what I want the outcome to look like. I appreciated the contrast between having technical competence and having the ability to project that technical competence to your team.