The #1 Secret to Communicating Effectively


January is my favorite time of the year. It is the time of lofty promises, visionary ideas, and sweeping changes. The new year teems with a unique energy that promises to change all of our lives for the better. Add to that, the fact that Open Enrollment season has come to a close and we can all collapse and drink a bottle of wine (or something stronger if necessary) and it’s practically the perfect time of year (minus the occasional polar vortex, of course).

This year, when all went quiet on the client-front over the holidays, I took advantage of the brief respite to reconnect with our vision here at Lab Monkey.

At first, I got all hopped up on mandates and new initiatives…

We will tell them, “you MUST enter your time into your timesheets by close of business Friday—no exceptions will be made.” 

Beginning in March we will have mandatory company-wide strategy meetings!

It got really unfun (yes, unfun), REALLY fast.

So boom! I wiped the slate clean and said, “What if I just listened?”

As communicators and managers we get so caught up in accomplishing our departmental objectives and shaping behaviors that it’s easy to forget that our employees will often tell us exactly how to do those things with ease if we just open up and listen to them.

This revelation reminded me of an encounter I once had with a homeless person who asked me, “Tell me son, do you have fifteen seconds?” I replied “No,” hoping to end the discussion and go about my way without being hassled for change or a meal. As I hurried on my way to who knows where, she said, “Of course you do. We all have fifteen seconds.” I didn’t turn around. I didn’t engage. But her words were nearly prophetic. Of course we do. We all have fifteen seconds. We all have time for the things that matter to us.

So if communicating with your team really matters to you, take the proverbial fifteen seconds and just listen to them. You’ll be amazed at what they have to say.