Developing a Personal Communication Cycle

Aug 22, 2014
Joe Buhlig
~2 mins

Recently a coworker confronted me on something I struggle with. Communicating. I’m introverted and love to come up with ideas, but I’m terrible at deciding when to share those ideas.

It’s not that I don’t want my ideas to spread. It’s not that I don’t want to let people see what I’m thinking. I was simply waiting to share until someone asked or it was vital to the next steps of a project. But that put me in defense mode. I was constantly reacting to questions and demands.

The other issue I created was a lack of a clearly laid out plan. Since I wasn’t sharing my thoughts and actions on a project, the people involved were making their own plan. That created a lot of tension.

I’m currently transitioning from a doer role into a leader role in my career. And that means most of the work I do is developing ideas or making decisions. I didn’t fully realize this until my colleague gracefully approached me about it. And I’m grateful. It doesn’t help if I come up with an idea or make a decision and don’t tell anyone about it. Simple, I know, but that’s where I was.

I did some research on when to share ideas, but didn’t find a whole lot. So I spent some time thinking through my processes and decided to insert a communicate step into my workflow. With my mind having a systems-approach to things, it makes perfect sense to me.

Here’s the new 4-step process:

1. Collect

The process starts by actively thinking through an idea or holding a meeting. I have information come to me or I generate it through mind maps, drawing on a whiteboard, or something to get the ideas out of my head.

2. Process

Once I have the information collected, I process it. If it’s from a meeting, I’ll look through my meeting notes and formulate my opinions and thoughts about what was discussed. If it’s an active thinking session, I’ll look over what I made in the process and do the same.

3. Communicate

Here’s the added step: once I’ve processed the information and have my opinions and thoughts put together, I write an email or set up a call to go over it. I make sure to include the actions that I’m planning when I do this.

4. Act

After I’ve communicated my thoughts and action plan, I start working on it. I work to complete the actions I laid out. Since I already shared the plan, I also have accountability to get it done in the time frame I laid out.

When I have the actions completed or have another idea, the process starts all over.

It’s a simple cycle. But in only a couple weeks, it has lowered my stress levels, helped me accomplish more, and helped our team see the vision behind the projects I’m leading. And that helps us all work better.