The Four B's of Effective Communication

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. – George Bernard Shaw

The story is told of Broadway producer Jed Harris who once became convinced he was losing his hearing. He visited a specialist, who pulled out a gold watch and asked “Can you hear this ticking?” “Of course,” Harris replied. The specialist walked to the door and asked the question again. Harris concentrated and said, “Yes, I can hear it clearly.” Then the doctor walked into the next room and repeated the question a third time. A third time Harris said he could hear the ticking. “Mr. Harris,” the doctor concluded, “there is nothing wrong with your hearing. You just don’t listen.”
Good communication is the life-blood of your organization. It is what keeps your team healthy and cohesive. It reinforces a strong corporate culture. But when communication is floundering it can send things within your organization into a downward spiral.
A Business Performance article ( stated that, “Organizations that fail to convey clear strategies and processes and engage employees in shared goals are likely to lose to companies with more effective communication practices.” The article revealed the obvious – that businesses with poor communication have higher employee turnover, increased absenteeism, poor customer service, ineffective change management, etc.
That these negative consequences are taking place in organizations is no surprise. It’s a natural consequence of poor communication. Leaders must be aware that effective communication skills will take you to the next level and poor communication skills will sink you.
Here are four tips that will help you become a more effective communicator as a leader. Take these to heart and put them into practice.
Be intentional
There must be intentionality behind your communication. Your words must convey meaning, purpose, and be delivered with clarity. This goes for written communication as well. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Be concise and as best you can leave no room for misinterpretation. Never assume anything on the part of the people with whom you communicate.
Be consistent
Your communication must be consistent. Don’t damage your credibility as a leader by saying one thing and doing another. Nothing will frustrate your people more and sink morale faster than a leader who isn’t consistent in his or her message.
Be receptive
As a leader you must remember that communication is a two-way street. It’s not always what you say that will make the difference. It’s what you hear that can be a game-changer. Simply put – don’t just be a dispenser of information – listen to your people. Hear what they are saying and create an environment where it is safe for them to talk without any fear of repercussion.
Be accountable
There is an old adage that says “the teacher hasn’t taught until the student has learned.” Apply this to your leadership and it will sound something like this, “The leader hasn’t communicated until his people understand.” This applies to the vision and mission of your organization. Do your people know it? Have they embraced it? Keep in mind – your people are the face of your organization. If they don’t know your mission or vision how well do you think they are representing it?
As a leader you are accountable for communication. It falls upon you to make sure that communication on all levels is taking place. Do you have accountability procedures in place to assess communication effectiveness and desired results?  These things do not happen by accident. You need to have a plan and implement the plan.
You have too much riding on the outcome of good communication. Master these basics and you will soon see the results you desire.
Doug Dickerson is an internationally recognized leadership speaker and columnist. He is the author of three leadership books. A Lowcountry resident, Doug is available to speak for your civic, business, or church group. To learn more visit

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