“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
One of the easiest things to do in life is to make assumptions. Sometimes it feels like we have so many things going on in our lives that we have no choice. We can’t possibly be intentional about addressing everything we want to address, so we just decide we’re going to have to make some assumptions and move on.
Sometimes that’s the way it has to be. None of us has the time or resources to conduct a full blown scientific investigation into every single issue or potential issue we’re facing. So we make some assumptions, make our best guess, and charge ahead.
Some assumptions are pretty “every day life”. You assume when you turn your key, your car will start. You assume when you flip a switch, the lights will come on. If you’re wrong, you know something must be broken, and you go fix it.
But some assumptions in our businesses can cause big problems. If you assume your people understand the vision for the company, but they really don’t, you have a problem. If you assume people know what you’re thinking or why a decision was made or what the purpose of some action is, but they really don’t, you have a problem. The hard part is that, unlike with your car or the lights, you may not know your assumption is wrong until much later, when potentially lasting damage has been done.
The point of all that is that when it comes to people and your business, don’t make assumptions. Don’t assume people understand your vision for the company. Don’t assume people know what you think. Don’t assume they understand what’s going on. It’s your job as the leader to make sure that communication is made and made clearly, and that everybody’s on the same page.
That doesn’t happen in a big speech, that doesn’t happen in a long email, that doesn’t happen once at the Christmas party. It happens over and over, every day, in every conversation you have, by being honest and authentic. You have to consciously make an effort to make sure communication is happening and that people understand what’s going on.
If you don’t, then it’s their turn to make assumptions. And they will. And those assumptions will almost never be positive. And those assumptions will be your fault. So start talking.