The Ultimate Management Skill

Communication is easy

There are only three things to worry about:

  1. The sender — the person transmitting the message
  2. The environment — the medium the message passes through
  3. The listener — the person who receives the message

Assuming a dialogue is called for (dialogues being a good thing), the sender and listener can swap places.

So far so good, there is only one problem.


Noise is anything that slows down, interferes with or reduces the clarity of communication.

If communication is a good thing, then noise is a bad thing.  Like communication there are only three types of noise to worry about:

1. Noise from the sender:

Senders aren’t always as crisp and clear with their messages as they could be.  Sometimes they suffer from:

2. Noise from the environment:

This is the most obvious type of noise.  Examples include:

3. Noise from the listener

This is the hardest type of noise to filter out because the listener struggles to perceive it.  It is however obvious to the sender.  Noise from the listener manifests itself as:

  • I already know this noise.  Symptoms include jumping to conclusions and “don’t waste my time” body language.
  • Bad news noise.  Politicians generate significant amounts of this type of noise.  It is characterised by the listener stuffing his fingers into his ears and humming the tune to the Archers in a vain hope that ignoring the message will make it go away.
  • I’m faffing with my phone noise.  Common among busy and important people including executives and teenagers.

Reducing the noise

Because knowledge is power the ability to communicate is all important. But when it comes to communication the deck is stacked.

The sender can reduce noise by:

  • Ditching the jargon and charts and getting to the point.

The listener can reduce noise by:

  • Asking for clarification from the sender
  • Filtering out the external distractions
  • Stilling their internal voices. (This one is tough)

But most powerful of all, the listener can choose what to listen to.

If the flow of information is good for your business, then maybe the most important job of any manager is to listen.

You should pass on this point to your boss.  I’m sure he will be all ears.

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