We discussed yesterday the need and understanding of your audience, and how that plays a foundational role in ensuring the success of any communications made within the workplace.  The rest of this series is based and built on the previous pieces, so 2 building on 1 and so on.  The next major step in becoming a better communicator is that of understanding the big picture.  That is a widely used expression however few people actually define the big picture in the manner in which it is meant to be understood.  What do I mean - I mean the big picture is more than you, or your group, and it is more than simply a task at hand.  The big picture is the task, the people that will perform the task, the political landscape of those people interact and the perceived importance of the objective at hand.  Great communicators understand all of these nuances and are capable of addressing them in a manner that brings the person or group into alignment with the objective.


The single most important factor in achieving "the understanding of the big picture" is for you to understand it first.  Managers start on an project or objective thinking that XYZ project that has been assigned is the big picture.  If you believe that, you are wrong and headed down a poor path of communication.  The big picture is a painting; the project is simply the landscape.  The paint used, the brushes selected, even how you will frame the piece when finished is what makes the masterpiece.  So how we define and get to know what the big picture is.  WE ASK.  Two of the scariest professionals words in the business.  People inherently do not want to ask questions of their management when assigned a duty for a number of reasons.  From not wanting to look stupid to simply thinking they got it under control, they forget this step and a great deal of times miss the target.  When communications begin, begin by soliciting input from the people around you that will be involved (management, peers, staff) so that you take in ideas that can not only assist in achieving the objective but in many cases provide value in shaping the objective.  It is amazing what comes from getting input on all sides, talking to ALL people affected by the objective and then turn the single project into a "mission" for the team rather than simply a task.  People feel involved, they feel empowered, most of importantly they feel responsible.


The above can be taken too far.  As the leader of communications, it is imperative to understand when something is over analyzed and discussed to a point where nothing is being accomplished.  That can as detrimental to the objective as not having discussions at all.  Remain in control, however in a manner that does not use an iron fist.  Set times for everyone to speak, communicate why you are giving everyone input, and then collaborate to an ending point where everyone knows the final decisions and is in marching order.  From there on out, people will view you as a true leader and an excellent communicator, someone to come to when things are needed to be done.  The benefits in the workplace for this skill are limitless and it will establish relationships that pay dividends moving forward for years to come.


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