Being a parent has made me a better communicator

Hearing “Why” for the hundreth time today, made me give a huge sigh towards my 3 year old who was asking me “why leaves fall from the tree” or “why we had to wait at the traffic lights” but then a light bulb went off in my mind. This isnt an annoyance, this is a great exercise in learning how to more effectively communicate with others.

I started asking myself: Was I answering the first question properly? Was I giving my daughter the information that she was looking for? When I approached it from this way, it really opened my eyes towards how I communicate during projects but also how I approach communication with my stakeholders.

Effective communication is not just about getting your message across to your audience it’s about guiding them towards a better state of knowledge and having them come away from the conversation with more information than they started with.

In the discussion with my daughter, she was not asking questions to be annoying or to frustrate me. She was asking questions to try and understand more about her current situation and what was important to her at that point in time. I then decided to try an experiment with some of my peers and asked them more questions to help them understand my project but also understand what I’m trying to deliver. These included:

  • How can I help you understand the project better?
  • What is the best way to communicate with you as a stakeholder?
  • What is your motivation to support this project?
  • How can I be a better communicator?

What came out of this was a greater understanding of my stakeholders but also what was the best way to communicate to my project team and stakeholders. This took a bit of time out of my day to be able to work on but in the end, it has saved me a lot of stress and potential issues occurring.

When you’re looking at your communication plan, what inputs are you including? Are you making any assumptions? or are you certain that this is how your stakeholders want to be communicated to? and in what time frame?

I may have to answer more “Why” questions that someone under interrogation but i’ll be looking forward to the next lesson that I can learn from my daughter!

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