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Communication Is a Fairness Process

    Douglas Bedell
    By Douglas Bedell

    Categories: administrators, community

    Communication is a fairness process. What's that mean? Communication isn't just talking or publishing, it's connecting. If communication isn't connecting, it's likely not being done carefully, that is, fairly.

    Communication is supposed to produce understanding, and to elicit an appropriate response. Yet you don't always find that happening as intended, especially in workplaces, where contrary pressures are high. If a manager isn't being fairly understood, or a subordinate fairly heard, communication isn't going well.

    What can get in the way? Lou Solomon, on the Harvard Business Review Leadership blog, says awareness, for one big thing. Interact/Harris Poll, for example, conducted an online poll of 1,000 U.S. workers. "In the survey," Solomon writes, "employees called out the kind of management offenses that point to a striking lack of emotional intelligence among business leaders, including micromanaging, bullying, narcissism, indecisiveness, and more."

    Anyone doubt that these are traits, probably unwitting ones, of poor communication? Anyone doubt they're not fair?

    "The data shows," Solomon adds, "that the vast majority of leaders are not engaging in crucial moments that could help employees see them as trustworthy." When this happens, leaders aren't being fair to themselves, much less to their subordinates.

    It comes down to stepping into another's shoes while communication is being attempted. "Am I being clear, am I being relational, am I being fair, am I being heard in the way I intend?" These are questions that leaders – managers at all levels – should be asking themselves as they attempt productive communication. 

    Look around next time you're attempting to communicate well, and ask yourself, "How am I doing?" It can't hurt. Continuing on in a heedless way can.