Is There a Communication Failure? (Leadership Training Institute)

By Jensen, Linda | Nation's Cities Weekly, August 19, 2002 | Go to article overview

Is There a Communication Failure? (Leadership Training Institute)


Jensen, Linda, Nation's Cities Weekly


Does this sound familiar? You have a great idea as to how the city can become more responsive to citizen needs. You share your idea with council members and staff, have one-on-one discussions with citizens and speak before various civic groups. Even though you feel your plan is sound, you believe you are not getting the buy in you had expected. Why is this happening?

Sometimes, the frustration can be caused by how we communicate our expectation. In other words, your style of communication might be seen by others as rigid, short sighted, impractical or pushy when in fact you believed you are being precise, adaptable, logical and practical.

First of all, each of us grew up learning a different set of cultural rules as to the "right" way to communicate. These rules then follow us throughout our life and resurface based on the situation you are in. Consequently, you've adopted your own communication style. Thus, you may find yourself listening, interacting and responding differently than someone else. So even though you thought you were using the right approach as you shared your idea on how the city could be more responsive to citizen needs, it may have been seen by others as ineffective.

The type of style you have developed can have different values and beliefs and can use different approaches when working on various situations. One style you may have adopted includes doing accurate work while always conforming to policies and doing things systematically yet you may have problems communicating because you resist change or get lost in details.

A second style strives for maintaining a harmonious relationship among the various groups you work within, yet you may have problems because you beat around the bush and let personal issues get in the way. A third style forces you to find solutions to the complex problems you face within your cities, yet communication problems can arise because you lack follow through or can't convert ideas into plans. A final style is one whereby you deal with situations immediately yet make others defensive or try to move ahead without other council member's support. …

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