I help my clients to communicate more effectively by using some best practices that often go against the established communication culture at many places of work. Whether it’s about getting rid of text-heavy slides in their presentations or eliminating passive voice from their email messages, I often hear: “That sounds nice, Guillermo, but everybody does it the other way at my company. I can’t change the culture!” And I have two responses for that.
First, I quote Henry Ford who said:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
So if you ‘know for a fact’ that you can’t affect the culture, then I’m sure you’re right. (Wink!)
But second, and more importantly, I say that you can lead from wherever you sit in your organization. Even if you don’t have authority to establish a new standard for how the entire workforce is going to conduct itself, you can, within your small sphere of influence, start communicating in ways that produce better results.
If you start using best practices—even when they go against the established culture where you work—you’ll see people respond positively to your presentations and your emails. You’ll notice them getting on board with what you’re proposing more easily. You’ll have fewer back and forth when you email because you communicated clearly the first time. And guess what? People will notice and appreciate your increased effectiveness.
I’m not saying that, if your Department Director tells you that she wants a text-heavy slide, you shouldn’t comply with her request because you think it violates a best practice of business communication. (First and foremost, don’t get fired, right?) But I am saying that, most of the time that you communicate at work, you’re not following detailed instructions from a superior. You get to make a great many choices about how you communicate, so take control of what you can, and lead the way—from where you sit—to an elevated, more effective communication culture.
Guillermo Villar is principal coach with Cambio Coaching. He helps high-achieving individuals and teams communicate with intention to get the business results they want.