• Phimation Strategy Group

Crucial Conversations – A Lesson in Improving Business Communication

I made a comment to several company leaders last week that gave us a good

laugh – and a good insight.


My wife and I got into a fight a few weeks ago over …[wait for it]… whether

or not we have effective communication. (Yes, that brought huge laughs…) As is

often the case, we were both right, and there’s a lesson in our argument for

business owners.


My wife thinks we have effective communication because 90-95% of the time it

works. She’s right, and we should feel good that we’ve created that.


I think we don’t have effective communication yet because the 5-10% of the

time that it doesn’t work are the most important and challenging issues. We

cover the basics well, but the really hard stuff is where a lot of the value

is.


The reality is that those are 2 very different types of communication. For

the basics, the point is to handle things quickly and efficiently – “minimize

the administrative overhead,” which is why standard processes and tools are

helpful, and why my wife and I can do this well after 20 years together. For

the hard stuff, the point is to take the time to build a mutual understanding

of the situation, create several possible solutions, clarify what’s important,

and have a deliberate decision process – which is why having 20-year patterns

in our marriage can work against us when new issues inevitably show up, and why

it is helpful to keep trying new things and listening to experts when we take

on new issues.


The lesson for business leaders is this: most of the time, it just takes

some effort to make your business perform. If you put in place some relatively

simple management tools and processes, you’ll take care of 90-95% of what’s

happening. That’s good.


But 5-10% of the time, it’s going to be hard and complicated. If you just

focus on the 90-95% that’s being handled well, you’ll feel good on the surface,

but you’ll be limiting yourself and hurting your business in the long run.

Because there’s a lot of long-term value in those few items that are

complicated.


The key is to make most of your business simple, so that you then have the

time, money, and energy to deal with the hard issues.


Handling the simple stuff with simplicity, and the complicated stuff with

sophistication, is how you get great performance from your business. (…and satisfaction

in your marriage…)


If you’d like to improve communication in your business, check out the book Crucial Conversations.

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