How Leaders Can Avoid Over-Communicating (and Why They Should)
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To say that communication is important in an organization is an understatement. From setting goals, being on the same page and having the same vision, to executing strategies, a leader's ability to communicate can either launch a company to greater heights or leave it crashing and burning.
The art of communication is a high-wire act to master. A leader needs both skills and confidence in verbally conveying what needs to be done with utmost efficiency and more importantly, effectively. Whether it's your staff or clients, both internal and external facets need the same degree of assertion and conviction.
Some leaders tend to under-communicate. From overlooking important information here and there to missing sections in an email, one's insufficient communication skills are far more common than you think. But not with strong, effective leaders — they know the ropes of every agenda they present from points A to Z. Simply put, missing a shot is not an option. Excellent communicators cover all the touchpoints.
Related: When Overcommunicating Can Do More Harm Than Good
But there's one critical misjudgment that most leaders are guilty of: overcommunication. More often than not, over-communicating is simply an overcompensation for under-communicating. From unnecessary repetitions to tedious back and forths, endless ping-pong talks are not only time-consuming, but they also complicate things that could've been short and simple in the first place.
Naturally, leaders have the desire to make sure their message comes across accurately. There's nothing worse than having your vision get lost in translation in the process of dissemination. But if you find yourself on the verge of over-communicating, think about these important points:
Learn the difference between reiteration and redundancy
The golden rule of communication in a professional setting is once is enough. If you explicitly say an instruction, a goal, a deadline or an expectation clearly and accurately, there's no need to go over it again and again. Strong leaders have the confidence that they command authority when they speak, and it's just a matter of trusting your subordinates and clients that your point came across.
Trust is a fundamental part of communication because it signifies that you are heard and understood. You can't work with or work for people whom you don't trust. This is the building block of every solid working relationship.
Of course, there are cases where you would have to emphasize importance. Whether it's a critical deal, a serious task or an urgent deadline, there's no harm in reiterating an instruction. But just do this once — trust your colleagues that they will accomplish the end of their deal.
Set everything in black and white
One of the most common reasons for endless back and forths is the lack of documentation. Make sure to put everything in black and white: from minutes of the meeting, detailed emails, to clear WhatsApp messages. Through this, you won't need to repeat yourself over and over again. If someone missed or forgot specific information, they should refer to the textual exchanges for clarification. In fact, there's no need to verbally reach you — they should just go over the conversation history and track the answers. This will both save you time and assure matter-of-fact accuracy.
Related: 9 Best Practices to Improve Your Communication Skills and Become a More Effective Leader
Focus on the walk, not the talk
More often than not, you just need to let the work speak for itself. This is particularly important in working with clients who crave urgency, assurance and transparency. There are cases where they could micromanage you with the things they want to achieve, setting you in a trap of overcommunication that doesn't yield anything but needless complexities. In these instances, just focus on what satisfies them: positive results. Work hard on delivering outputs that are up to par. Once you present those results, the web of back and forths eventually diminishes, setting a tone of trust and confidence between two parties in future projects.
Too much communication is just as inefficient as the lack thereof. It doesn't do any good to your clients, to your team members, and most importantly, to yourself. There's no value in endless, tedious and repetitive cycles. Focus strictly on the work, and let go of the nonsense.