By Joseph Hunt, Founder
The second Core Value of JHA Companies is:
COMMUNICATION IS KEY.
As I brainstormed this blog post I could not help but be personally convicted concerning my own communication and questioning whether I am practicing what I am about to preach. If I am honest, I must tell you that I do not do this well all the time, and this is an area that I will need to continue to grow and develop for the rest of my life. As I lead my family and this business, the success of both hinges primarily upon my ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
Communication is by far the most important skill to possess. It is known as a soft skill, and our ability with this skill will either limit or maximize our ability to serve and lead others as we seek to accomplish our mission. Here at JHA we have three core values that guide us in our day-to-day behaviors and each one relies upon the other. Our first core value is People Matter Most. If we get this wrong and we fail to value people, you can bet that we are not communicating to the level we need.
LEARN TO LISTEN.
We spend years learning how to read, write, and speak. But what about listen? Most of us have not received any formal training in the skill of listening. The results are not good because we are trained to communicate in the spoken and written word, but we are not trained to be good listeners. We often join in the communication with an agenda and something to prove. Instead, we should seek first to understand, and the only way we can do this is to be quiet and listen. In most cases, asking questions about what has been said should be what we say first. If we seek first to understand, then and only then can we be understood. It has been said that people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Being a good listener will demonstrate that you care and are genuinely interested as you seek to deeply understand another human being. Listening will earn you the right to be heard, and you will gain wisdom and insights that cannot be learned if you had been talking.
TAME THE TONGUE.
This idea of taming the tongue comes from God’s Word found in the book of James, chapter 3, where God said through the apostle James that “no one can tame the tongue” (James 3:8). Chapter 3 contains lengthy and convicting truth about our tongues and the words that roll off it. It tells us that the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts; it is a fire and a world of evil that defiles the whole person; and it is unrestrainable and full of deadly poison. God even declares that taming the tongue on our own is impossible. Why is this? When Adam sinned in Genesis, God attributed that sin to all mankind, so whether or not we want to believe it, every human being is born with a wicked heart and an evil sin nature (Romans 3:10–18).
So how can we tame the tongue? If God has said that “no one” can tame it, how can we even begin to do so? While many people have quit smoking or drinking by the power of the human will, the problem of the heart and tongue cannot be solved by human willpower. It takes the power of the resurrected Christ within us to control the tongue, and that power is available only to those who turn their lives over to Him (Romans 8:10–14). As with so many things in life, “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
VERBAL IS #1.
In today’s high speed, connected world, email text messages and social media have become the default mode of communication for many of us. Emails, while they certainly have a place and purpose, are extremely inefficient and one-sided. On top of that it lacks non-verbal cues that govern much of our emotions when we communicate face to face.
Have you ever thought that each email you send has a time debt associated with it that will have to be paid in the future?
Your emails will usually provoke a response that you will have to read and then probably reply to again, and again, and maybe again. The cycle can go on and on. The time you spend reading and replying is a time debt to be paid in the future and it is usually an interruption, taking you away from other priorities of that future day. Instead, consider having one 5-minute conversation (face to face, on the phone, or a video call) and conclude it without a time debt to pay in the future. Additionally, the level of understanding and quality of conversation will be far better than the email string, and conclusions did not take several emails of time to reach.
There are four types or levels of communication, and at JHA we prioritize them in this order. The lower communication levels support those above it, and they can all be utilized together to enhance our communication with others:
- Verbal: the spoken word.
- Non-Verbal: facial expressions, gestures, appearance, eye gaze, etc.
- Written: the written word; letters, emails, etc.
- Visual: signs, drawings, illustrations, animations, electronic resources, etc.
Here at JHA, our first instinct when communicating should always be to pick up the phone or talk in person or on video. Emails are great for scheduling, writing follow up summaries of conversations, and delivery of documents, contracts, and deliverables materials, but emails should never be our go-to mode of communication.
GREASE THE GEARS.
Great communication is like putting grease on the gears of your organizations and your relationships. Without lubrication the gears will begin to heat up as the friction increases, and if left without any grease, the machine will reach a point of critical failure. It will either blow up or freeze up and stop running very quickly with so much damage done that it may never run again. Sobering thought, isn’t it? This is what can happen when we, especially leaders, fail to communicate.
THE TRICKLEDOWN EFFECT.
It has been said that everything rises and falls on leadership. That means if you are a leader, you are both the problem and the solution. So how do we become part of the solution? We must become better communicators because great teams, organizations, and businesses are built on great communication. In times of crisis, we must over communicate and keep our teams informed. We can be optimistic, but we must not sugarcoat the truth. No matter how difficult the circumstance we must present the truth as we know it.
We must also remember that great relationships are built on great communication. In business, our greatest intangible asset is the network of people with which we have a relationship. If we fail to communicate with our close associates, friends, or family we will likely damage trust, hindering the relationship. Lastly, great cultures are formed around great communication. Get this right and your team culture will excel, and your organization, business, or home will be a place that people want to be around and remain engaged in for the long haul.