By Chris Blauth
When you think of ‘effective communication’ does Napoleon Bonaparte come to mind? If not, he should.
Much has been written about Napoleon’s brilliant military strategy and his unending quest for world domination. Less known, and perhaps legend, is the process he devised and followed to ensure that his generals understood his every command.
Enter the Marginal Idiot. Napoleon knew that if someone lacking full capacity to understand information did understand a message, then it was so clear that others in more critical positions—namely generals miles away on the battle front—were certain to comprehend the message and act accordingly. Unlike in Napoleon’s day, we have the technology today to communicate to one or thousands at the blink of an eye. Yet are your messages really understood by others? Keep the following principles in mind when communicating either mission-critical strategic plans or delegating mundane tasks:
- Organize your thoughts. It pays to think before you speak. Whether getting your thoughts on paper or just thinking through what you’ll say, you need to consider your objectives, your audience, and the key points in your message.
- Deliver you message in compelling ways. Effective communicators know that how they deliver a message is just as important as the message itself. Use stories, illustrations, and metaphors to convey your point in memorable and compelling ways.
- Explore responses. Take the time to respond to the questions, concerns, and ideas of others. Go beyond active listening to empathetic listening.