The Power of the “Spoken” Word and the “Written” Word
-- Al E. Bavry, CEO, Kimal Lumber & Hardware
We run departments, company divisions, or whole companies. We've gotten pretty good at it. We get spreadsheets and know how to read them. We have metrics in place that tell us to the penny what's going on. We begin the year with budgets that we feel are realistic, and then move forward during the year to guide them to fruition. All of this I describe as the “Two-Dimensional”world. (No one can argue that 2+2 equals 4 on a spreadsheet.) But we also continually operate in the “Organic”Three Dimensional world.
With the Three Dimensional world it gets more difficult…I guess the simple "blanket" this goes under is "Communication"...What we say. In meetings, one-on-one contact with Associates, with customers, vendors, with everyone, verbal communication is "Key" to how we're perceived as "Leaders." The same of course applies to the written word...memos, emails, inter-office memos, company policies, etc. At the end of the day, we're probably "graded" far more on these two "vehicles" than anything else. And once we've "Said" something, or "Written" something, it's pretty hard to "reel it back!"
So, I want to share some simple rules that I follow as I conduct my business and presence on a daily basis, in order to get it “right”the majority of the time.
• The written word: Be it a memo to a department, an individual manager, a vendor, or a simple email--I try to script it well by really thinking through what I want to say. Every "Connection" has to be meaningful, and understood by both parties involved. Once "written," I go back and edit. Of course I look for the obvious typos, etc., but try to read and understand viewing it from "the other side." Many times I'll save the memo, to "incubate" overnight, and then complete and send it the next day. Personally, I've re-done important memos, as many as four, five or more times just to be sure I've gotten it right. Remember, once sent out, you can't "reel it back in." And don't laugh...Sometimes folks will focus more on a simple typo error, rather than the message...Just got to get it real right.
• The spoken word: Mainly, I'm viewing this as preparation for a meeting. Whether it be a meeting with a group of Associates (such as our monthly meetings), or an important "One-on-One" with an Associate, I will prepare a "Script"...What do I want to say? What is the message I want to get across? Anticipate possible questions from the other side…Put yourself mentally in that person’s shoes, so you insure these dialogs are never geared to come across as "one-sided." Remember, you're the leader, and what you say has real impact! And if it's very important, that person you're dialoging with may well be "hanging on every word"...And again, once said, you can't "reel it back in"…
And I'll add this...Although it’s important to have well prepared "Written" and "Spoken" communication, in the real world, you often have to "speak on your feet" in the heat of the moment…or quickly prepare a short memo to cover something. No time to worry about getting it dead right. No, I'm not saying accept being a little "quick and sloppy." My way is to simply take a quick deep breath, and run a response through you mind, before you speak or write...I know, we're talking seconds of preparation here, but again, once those verbal or written words come out...can't reel them back in. It’s just good mental conditioning, I guess. And maybe what all of the above comes down to is working hard to just be a good and respected “Leader”who gets a clear message across. By setting that "high bar" and then working hard to attain it, the “written”or "spoken" words may be the most powerful arrows you have in your quiver. Use them well!!