CATHERINE FRIDAY: Good communication looks like a communication that is clear, concise, considered. It is not the use of jargon and big words. We don’t get paid by the syllable. We get paid by the impact of the words we put on the page, or the words that we deliver verbally. And so good communication, to me, is really simple and really clear.
MELINDA DI VITA: So where I work, we look for people who can get what they want across quickly. Fast pace, extremely busy environment. We work in superannuation, so things change very quickly. So we need people to be up to date with everything, and to be able to communicate it clearly and effectively to everyone in the organisation.
GARY SMITH: People being honest in their communication, be it written, oral, digital, or whatever. Integrity, reflecting what they generally believe to be the point they want to communicate, as opposed to feeding back to the audience, be it an individual or a large group, what they think they are wanting to hear.
CATHERINE FRIDAY: What I look for is people who can write and think and speak clearly and concisely. The more concise and the greater the clarity in people’s communication, the more efficient they are with their time, and the more efficiently our clients can understand what it is they’re seeking to convey. For our clients, as for us, time is money. The more efficient we are, the better we are, and the more value we add.
MELINDA DI VITA: You really need to look at your target audience, make sure that you got the right question to ask the person to get the right answer.
GARY SMITH: Employees that are reporting to senior management want to present information that they think that senior management want to hear. But the reverse is absolutely the truth. Senior managers want to be given the facts, the rational argument, the conviction of the individual, in terms of the message or the position that they’ve adopted, and basically tell it as it is.
CATHERINE FRIDAY: People are communicating upwards. They also need to be clear in their own mind about what information their intended audience is going to be putting this communication to. You know, am I providing an executive summary to someone who is going to have three minutes to read it before they go into a meeting? So it’s not just about communicating what I think someone wants to hear. It’s giving them what they need in the way that they can most easily digest it in the time that’s available to them.
MELINDA DI VITA: How that person wants to be communicated to. So there’s some people in senior management who prefer face-to-face, quite casual scenarios, like in a kitchen environment. There’s some who prefer questions in writing, or to have an appointment made with them in order to sit down and discuss, so that they can focus 100% on the actual person.
CATHERINE FRIDAY: Messages that come from above in an organisation carry a real weight to them. We all hear criticism 10 times more loudly than we hear praise. And so communication down needs to be very balanced. It needs to be very respectful. And it needs to invite feedback and to be transparent. You know, if we are talking to external stakeholders, we are necessarily engaging with people who have many, many claims on their time. Our communication with them also needs to be respectful, and it needs to be concise, and we need to say why we want to communicate with them, and hopefully, what they will get out of the communication with us as well.
GARY SMITH: Some people are better than others at being natural communicators. Those people are probably a little bit more extrovert by nature. But the true answer to the question lies in the quality of the content of the conversation, not necessarily whether it’s told in a very flamboyant sense, or in a very subdued sense.
MELINDA DI VITA: You can pick them a mile away. You can see them walking. It’s almost like they’re a certain personality type. And the people who aren’t that good at communication, it’s a definite skill set that they can pick up.
CATHERINE FRIDAY: Those people who have the gift of the gab and can keep a whole room of people enthralled with every word that drops from their lips. But I think that there is still hope for the rest of us. And I think good communication can be learned. Like any skill, it can be learned with practise, and by putting yourself in a situation where you are speaking to groups of people, or you are writing papers for submission, and getting the feedback about, what about your particular approach or style works, and what doesn’t?
MELINDA DI VITA: Throw yourself into a situation where you feel a little bit uncomfortable, that makes you push yourself to be better than who you are, so that in the next scenario that comes up, you’re able to face that and communicate in a way that will be efficient.
GARY SMITH: Honesty, so tell it as it is. Play the ball, not the man. Clarity of message. And always do what you believe to be right.
CATHERINE FRIDAY: And as with anything, practise, practise, practise.