Communication – intent, delivery and language
We all have areas for professional improvement. I have been refining how / what I view communication to be, conversations in particular, and how we / I communicate at school for the past year as a developmental opportunity taken from my “Moving at the Speed of Trust” .
Firstly, communication has become a very conscious and deliberate act. As has not engaging in conversation.
Leadership – the art of convening conversations that might not happen otherwise. – Patricia Shaw
As a result, communication has become more purposeful, considered, sought out. Conversely, I am more aware of the consequences of chance encounters and these are approached with more care. Under these circumstance, decisions are rarely made directly. Conversations are more likely to be deferred or delayed. Where a decision is required, I try to move the conversations towards a coaching conversation.
SITUATION – What’s working? What’s not working?
POSSIBILITY – What could work? What could I / we do differently? What would make a difference?
ACTION – What are the next steps to make this happen?
A swifter version –
Does it cost money? Is anyone put at risk? Then make a decision.
Second, as a school we have tried to shared information in advance rather than communicate instruction. We have an open calendar that we managed very carefully, we share bi-weekly email digests for information that always start with “Teaching and Learning,” items and this year we have moved to daily structured, focused, lean meetings (less than ten minute).
The calendar offers medium term information, bi-weekly emails act as a record of the important act now items with lean meetings paired back for information and celebration, bringing staff together to start the day. It may be that the conversations that occurs after the lean meeting, are as important as the lean meeting itself.
The aim is clarity and openness and with these three communication opportunities in place, I am moving on from my conscious awareness of the intent and delivery, onto the language employed.
Intent and Delivery
Start with a warm welcome, a “good morning everyone”, maybe an acknowledgement, “Good to see you this morning, X” (Paul Blake, thank you for modelling this so well).
Less is more. Lean. Interestingly – I find starting with recognition improves the tone of the meeting.
Am I clear about the purpose of the conversation or communication? What is the intent? What do I want the recipient to take away, decide, or do with the communication? More often than note, this has been an entry onto SIMs or a tutor sharing a message with students. Is it time for lean meetings to move into tutorials?
For unplanned conversations –
Am I sure the receiver is in a position to receive the message? Remember they will be tuned into WIIIFM? (What’s in it for me)?
Do I provide an opportunity to confirm that the message sent was the message received?
Pace and tone.
To be confident of the language, most communications or conversations benefit from being planned or scripted; yet this can detract from the connection. There is a balance to be found.
I am working on using fully expanded language, especially with parents. No acronyms, esoteric terminology or edu-jargon. Attitude to learning rather than ATLs.
Ambiguous language erodes trust.
That is a far amount to be mindful of and that is why it is a work in progress.