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Kevin was feeling good. He was headed home after a tiring, but successful, day as production manager of a large semiconductor “fab” (high tech talk for “factory” – it’s short for “fabrication”).”
He was used to the fast PACE at the hard-driving, take-no-prisoners Fortune 100 chip company. They demanded a lot from their employees, especially their production managers, and it was one of the reasons he was well compensated. He liked days like this. Normal. Nothing WAY OUTSIDE the lines.
What Kevin WASN’T expecting was the communication nightmare he was about to experience. In fact, maybe didn’t just experience it. Maybe he STARTED it! Regardless, it was like a hidden minefield and he was going in Blind. Unexpecting. Naive.
Kevin sat down to a nice dinner with his wife and daughter. Ahhh …. one of his favorites! Kevin’s wife was a terrific cook and tonight she had prepared pork tenderloin (with some type of sauce he couldn’t pronounce OR remember, but it was GOOD!!!!), black beans, yellow rice, chopped onions, fresh bread, and olive oil. … Yeah baby! Nice to be home. Great food. Good times with the family. He looked over at his daughter, noticed she was wearing a really cute (she was 12) sweater.
Totally unaware of the communication nightmare that was about to begin, Kevin said, “That’s a nice sweater.” … That’s it. “Nice sweater.” Bang! “Nice sweater.” Boom! “Nice sweater.” Kerpow! (a shout-out to Batman). … How could anything be more simple. “Nice sweater.”
Kevin’s daughter burst into tears. Ran to her room. Slammed the door. … Upon entering her room, Kevin asked why she was upset. Sniffling into her pillow, she said – “Because you didn’t say anything about my skirt!!!” – Yep! That’s what she said. Promise. “You didn’t saying anything about my skirt!!!”
Kevin spent the rest of the evening communicating. With his daughter. With his wife. With himself. With God. He was desperately trying to END the communication nightmare. Dang! What had gone wrong??? … What had happened??? … As I get older (um, I mean more experienced!), I am more and more aware, and AMAZED!, at how large a role communication plays in most (ALL?) issues. Problems. Misunderstandings. Gaps. In politics. In corporate America. In school. In the home. In churches. In marriage. In sports. In abc. In xyz.
Things left unsaid (hello, Kevin). … Body language (and ALL the other non-verbals). … Tone of voice. … Pace. … Intonation. … Words chosen. … Context. … # of words. … Words not chosen. … Perception. … Culture. … Family background. … Mood. … Emotions. … Frame of reference. … Sender AND receiver. … What happened in last 4 hours. … Last 5 minutes. … Personality type (you know, MBTI, DISC, and all those other style indicators that impact communication).
Communication is a key to great LEADERSHIP. It is a key to great RELATIONSHIP. It is a key to BUILDING. And SUSTAINING. The great leaders of the world, in all walks of life, are great COMMUNICATORS.
Communication is NECESSARY and HARD for great leadership, but IF you can master it, you can rule the world (well, you know what I mean). Look at some of the great leaders of all-time – Jesus (personal favorite). Martin Luther King, Jr.. Lincoln. Washinton. Lee. Churchill.
In one way, shape, or form, all those who INFLUENCE are great communicators – either in WRITTEN Word, SPOKEN Word, or DEED (or a combination thereof). Sports. Business. Government. Education. Family. Community. Spiritual. … It doesn’t matter. Men and women of influence. LEADERS – are great communicators.
When I reflect on 25 years of (great!!!) marriage, 25 years of working in corporate America, 35 years of ministry and leadership in sports, community, and the church, I’m amazed – BLOWN ABSOLUTELY AWAY!!! – at the importance AND difficulty of communication. Written. Verbal. Non-verbal. Action. … Hard work. Very hard work. Necessary. Challenging. Fun. Dynamic. Frustrating. Critical.
Want to be a better LEADER? HUSBAND? FATHER? WIFE? MOTHER? SALESMAN? MANAGER? CORPORATE EXECUTIVE? ATHLETE? REALTOR? … Want to be a better P-E-R-S-O-N? Be a better communicator.
While some may view Kevin’s communication nightmare as his daughter’s fault. That is absolutely NOT the case. There are always emotions, context, and unknowns. Remember, communication is sender AND receiver. You don’t always (if ever) know everything going on inside the receiver’s head and heart. The key is to work through the communication nightmare, not give up, and continually strive to be a better communicator and become a better LEADER. A better PERSON.
YOUR ideas, thoughts, perspective, on COMMUNICATION???