Why Communications is Like Water

I have always enjoyed being around the ocean, especially in warm locations.  If you do a search on my site for “beach” you will see pictures of a very happy Jeremy.  OK so before I bore you with how much I love the ocean I have to get to the point of this post.  Communications is how I have made my living for almost half my life now.  I live, eat, and sleep communications and rarely get surprised these days with new ways people choose to communicate.   I saw Bruce Lee’s “Be Like Water” video on YouTube a few years ago and people at work know ever since I have referred to it when discussing challenges with communications in companies.

The reason the video resonated with me is I loved how Bruce Lee described water taking the shape of different things, as well as its different forms. I’ve visited a lot of companies over the years and I’ve seen a lot of company cultures. I think many of us overlook how important communication is to our companies.  Countries fighting in wars know the value of communications because one of the first things they do when attacking an opposing side is attempt to disable as many communications as they can.  If countries can’t communicate they can’t effectively organize, follow orders, and similarly businesses are the same way.

Returning to our water analogy, everyone needs water to live and in many ways professionals must communicate in order to survive.  How much or how little communication people send or receive determines how well they are able to receive it.  If you are in a rainstorm and you want to capture water, one of the most efficient ways is to put a cup under a gutter downspout.  Similarly if you want to want to capture the best audience when communicating you find your funneled, or target audience.  If it is raining and you run around with your mouth open, you will get wet but you’ll also stay thirsty.  In business many of us are communicating but how many times have you heard employees are being “flooded with information”?

How to Effectively Communicate Without “Getting Yourself All Wet”

  • Take a temperature check to understand your audience.  Will the person I am communicating with care and is it pertinent to them?  If no, what will it take to make them care of for it to be pertinent for them?
  • Don’t belly flop when diving in.  If you jump in without checking your grammar, you might not get taken seriously.
  • Default to the raindrop method when communicating rather than flooding your audience with too much information.
  • No splashing in the pool (get to the point).  You can swim and you can splash but when you get to the other side of the pool, people will appreciate you a lot more if don’t make waves by talking too much.
  • Like bathing, do it often, but only as needed.
  • One step at a time.  When people first learn to swim they need to know the basic mechanics before you throw them “in the deep end”.
  • You need someone to oversee that everyone follows the rules.  At the beach and many of the pools we hire lifeguards to make sure people follow the rules and help those who need it.  In business if you don’t have a person or team making sure people follow the rules, chances are, they won’t.
  • Make your communication short and sweet.  If you stay in water too long you’ll turn into a prune.  Prunes aren’t cool and you won’t be either.  Don’t be a prune.

Communications in a company can flow, or it can crash.  Be water my friend!