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August 11, 2015

Barriers Communicators Face #3: Check-off Mentality

Too often, leaders approach communication with a “check-off-the-box” mentality.

Here are ways you can recognize, respond and help your leader if this may be something occurring in your organization.


You can tell if your leader sees communication as a one-time event when you get the following clues:

• “But I already communicated it.”

• “I sent out an email.”

• “I’m sick of saying that.”

• “We put posters up in the cafeteria.”

• “Managers can take care of that.”

• “We sent a toolkit out last month.”

• They see communication as a one-time event.

Approach your leader by saying:

• “Information and communication aren’t the same.”

• “Communication is about creating a dialogue that gets to shared meaning – not checking off a box on a to-do list.”

• “Repetition is important because people need to hear consistent messages over time before they’re internalized.”

• “It may be your fourth time saying it, but the first time they’re hearing it.”

• “What kind of feedback did we get? How do we know if it was meaningful or not?”

• Given the levels of information “overload” we all experience, repetition of key messages is critically important to be most meaningful and create action.

• “Managers can follow up with the ‘how?’ but leaders are most effective at presenting the ‘what?’ and the ‘why?’”

To help your leader see why communication is a process, not a one-time event, draw on the awareness to action model.

Use this model as you work to increase your leader’s awareness that communication isn’t check-off-the-box and help move them to action:

  • Awareness: The employee is collecting information about the topic; they may or may not have an opinion yet.
  • Understanding: The employee begins to form an opinion and talks to others or asks their leader question about the topics.
  • Acceptance: The employee absorbs the idea and agrees with it or may question changes.
  • Commitment: The employee takes a stand one way or another and may verbally express acceptance.
  • Action: The employee takes action and may even influence others to do so.

Remind your leader that research shows that many of us need to hear a message multiple times before we get it, and when employees hear the same message repeated, they’re more likely to take notice, believe it, and most importantly, act on it.

What can you start doing to help your leader understand that communication isn’t a one time event?

-David Grossman


Download the free eBook, The A List Part 2, and communicate your way to great leadership today!


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