Do you often feel like you are speaking another language? Most entrepreneurs do. It's like you are in the Tower of Babel sometimes - employees consistently misinterpreting what the owner of the company says, as in a game of broken telephone. I think it's because we often just spout off our opinions and thoughts without taking the time to truly realize the consequences. It's not that those on the receiving end of our discussions don't understand us - it's that they take what we say as fact and direction when sometimes we're simply thinking out loud. I once had a colleague of mine tell me that I should not be surprised when people act on my thoughts or words even when they are not true directives. She equated it to me rolling a bowling ball down a lane and being totally surprised when it knocked over some pins.
Every time we speak - whether it's an opinion or an idea, we are in fact sending directional signals to our staff. It takes a disciplined, high performance team to be able to filter what is simply your viewpoint and opinion versus what is direction and fact. And building that team takes a leader who has learned how to be clear and concise.
That's why it's so critical we always think about how we frame our thoughts before we speak. We need to ensure that serious and clear statements are not confused for meandering opinions or of-the-moment debate.
I often tell my team that what I am about to say is not definitive but merely an opinion that could be better informed by their input. That means making sure you know the difference yourself. We breeze in and out of our teams daily grind, landing like eagles on the minutia and then going back up soaring above the clouds keeping a watch. Unfortunately for our teams they never know when we will swoop down and throw their routines off balance. Now that can work for the eagle - I mean it gets to choose its spots, pick out its target and get what it needs. Not so good, however, for the habitat below.
Being aware of our surroundings, our impact on others and our use of language and tone is uber important. Before you speak, think. As you speak, choose your words carefully. State opinion for what it is. State direction clearly. And, above all else, LISTEN.