LeadingOrganizationsSuccessWe

It’s not a communication problem

“We have a communications problem.”

In working with people and their organizations, I often hear statements like that one.

Truth is that it’s almost never a communications problem; it’s a relationship problem.

What’s the difference? The word communication has evolved away from its roots (think, “commune”). It is used mostly today to describe an activity, task, or transaction (think, “communications plan” or “communication system”).

The word “relationship,” on the other hand, points to a connection–mostly emotional–between people.

We are all in relation to everyone else. We are all human beings who have a spark of intelligence, consciousness within. We see this as important, even precious in ourselves and others.

When the transactions of communication aren’t working well, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the real solution will be in a sustained strengthening of relationships. There typically isn’t enough trust or accountability. False civility and politics may also be present.

Strengthening relationship is simple

It is not difficult to strengthen relationships. A good place to start is by simply acknowledging or remembering–and it doesn’t have to be spoken or written–that the other(s) have that spark within them. The ancient Sanskrit word namaste captures this well. Loosely translated, it means, “The spark that I am sees and respects the spark that you are.”

Build on that simple acknowledgment by knowing and growing your emotional intelligence, using practical models and tools (such as DISC), and getting good feedback. This will help you and your organization become better relaters and communicators.

Better relationships then make the communications smoother, easier, and more effective.

In the movie, Cool Hand Luke, the character called The Captain is famous for saying, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

No, sir. What we have here is failure to relate.

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