Our COMPASS series focuses on the critical need for self reflection. We’ve already talked about our open, hidden, blind, and known/unknown spots with the intention to enable you to better understand yourself, strengthen relationships, and increase the successes you have with others. Now we’ll start discussing the COMPASS components (look in the left box for the list). Our COMPASS is a tool which may be used throughout your career– it identifies key components for providing direction and for obtaining desired results.

#3 in COMPASS Series – Failure to Communicate?

When working with leaders, it’s often interesting to obtain answers to the question “Did you share that information”?  We sometimes hear “yes”, and when pressed how, the majority respond “via email”, admitting there was little or no supporting information.

While we are not here to judge, we can tell you that just sending an email is frequently insufficient. There is quite a bit of evidence that says it takes seven attempts for someone to accurately interpret and process your message.

We see advertisements, commercials, promotions etc numerous times, so why do we think our professional (and personal) communication should be any less frequent? The more critical and personal the information is, the greater the need to meet face to face (whenever possible), followed by a phone conversation if a face to face is not viable. We suggest never sending personal feedback via email as this will break down trust and hurt relationships.

Communication occurs in a variety of modes including:

  • Face to face
  • Telephone
  • Email/IM
  • Texting
  • Video conference
  • Electronic blasts
  • “Snail” mail

Which do you use most? Why?

Do you use the ideal mode or the one that’s easiest to use?

Could using another mode benefit you more?

Are you sure your message was accurately interpreted? How do you know?

Communication is Complicated

It includes 4 elements

1. Verbal

  • The usage of words
  • The ability to control what we say
  • A common belief that we all interpret words the same

2. Paraverbal

  • The way something is said
  • How quickly we speak, pause, tone of voice, intensity levels. NOTE: Our words may not match our delivery!

3. Body Language

  • How we physically communicate
  • Do we stand, cross our arms, roll our eyes, shake hands firmly, make eye contact?
    • Facial expressions and eye contact are key to interpretations

4. Personal Space

  • Includes the space between you and others
  • How you arrange your work space (cluttered vs. neat, organized vs. disorganized)
  • Choice of decorations / personal touches
  • Your personal appearance!


  • What do you already know about your communication strengths and opportunities for improvement?
  • Who can you ask for feedback to learn more about how you communicate?
  • In what way do you need to be more open and authentic?
  • How can your communication style inspire creativity and innovation?

When a leader communicates their vision, how many modes should they use? As many as possible! Again, sending one email with your vision, mission and goals is not enough.

Please be open, rate yourself objectively on where you are within the COMPASS regarding communication. Now rate your team.  Do you see any opportunities for improvement?

Recommended Reading

  1. Crucial Conversations – Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, RonMcMillan, and Al Switzler
  2. The Introvert Advantage – How To Thrive In An Extraverted World-Marti Olsen-Laney
  3. Type Talk – Otto Kroeger and Jane M. Thuesen

Today’s Quote

Communication breakdown, It’s always the same
–Led Zeppelin

Effective communication is when we send a message and it’s received and accurately understood!