Communication: the stories we assume

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Communication is the lubricant of the high-trust engine.

In a dynamic relationship when communication is lacking, trust is in jeopardy.

During a Blue Angel airshow, the leader is making routine radio transmissions regarding where the formation is and what is coming next (“We’re behind the crowd, setting up the Diamond Roll maneuver”). These messages reassure the wingmen — who are totally focused staying in position within two feet of the jet next to them at 300-400 mph — that all is OK and the show is progressing as briefed.

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Without the communication, the wingmen would wonder, “What’s going on?” “Where are we?” “Is everything OK?” Doubts would grow into hesitation, distraction, separation, disengagement.

Human beings are natural story-makers and story-tellers.

In the absence of communication, members of your team will develop their own stories about other people’s intentions, assumptions, and behaviors. Over time these stories can wildly diverge from the truth and cause significant gaps in relationships with mistrust.

Consider developing a COMMUNICATION cadence to ensure timely, regular interactions to maintain mutual understanding, CONNECTION, and avoid gaps.

Your team should know when they will next hear from you.

Transmit your candid assessment of the current situation and your intentions.

By communicating regularly, your team avoids inaccurate, negative stories that build up over time (gossip).

If there is a gap in communication and gossip appears, give your teammates and/or its leader the benefit of the doubt until your impression can be confirmed or discarded.

Seek to dispel unfounded criticisms of teammates and negativity based simply on assumptions. Ask, “Are you sure? How do you know? Have you discussed it with them?”

Everyone is responsible for keeping the communication paths open and flowing. If you need more, ask for it. If a teammate is a poor communicator, reach out to communicate and sustain trust.

Be a High-Trust Leader: Communicate truthfully and authentically, with predictable regularity.

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