1: Communicating

The first necessary skill for being in business is communicating well.

Key topics in good communication

  1. In plain English
    • Avoid expensive words. Plain English works best.
  2. The magic number 7
    • Avoid bullshit. Long emails, long speeches, long excuses. I have been guilty of this.
    • How short is short enough? Apparently, sentences, paragraphs, list should include a maximum of 7 chunks of information at a time.
  3. Communicate conviction
    • I have started the habit of verbalizing how Convinced I am of my opinion. This makes discussions shorter by transmitting judgement in a clear way.
    • The path of a conversation should be Challenge → Approaches → *CONVICTION* → Discussion → Decision → Implementation
      • As an example, if my team presents a plan for a new layout for spreadsheet tables, I will frequently say:
        • "I like what I see and am 99% convinced"; or alternatively
        • "It's growing on me but I'm only like 51% convinced"; or even
        • "I don't like that because of X, and I am 99% convinced that it's wrong".
        • Notes: In the first case, as a manager I have given the team a nudge that this is a go, whereas in the second I would probably ask the team to discuss the proposal in depth.
      • When everyone in a meeting adds this extra detail over their opinions, it's easier to move forward with decisions that everyone is comfortable with, and focus on decisions that may be contentious need a better solution.
      • Applying this concept to this very text, I can say that I am 99% convinced that adding Convictions is a good discussion strategy.
  4. Encourage
    • Use speech and writing to encourage. Those who read you may be far away and not share your understanding of things. The more positive you are in the style, even when delivering bad news, the better the message is received.

Evaluating Communication skills of candidates and team members

The following are red flags 🚩.

  • people who don't answer your questions, but answer something else.
  • people whose answer takes far longer than needed.
  • people who are lazy:
    • being very binary instead of accurately describing their conviction.
    • using wrong terms to describe what is going on ("the project is done" when it's still in QA).
  • people who are demotivated or demotivating in their language: when you constantly avoid talking to someone, 9 times out of 10 this is what is going on.