Much has and will be written about the stunning and dramatic play that ended the 2018 NFL divisional playoff football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints. One of football’s fundamental skills was missed with less than 10 seconds left in the game. Basic tackling techniques were forgotten and the result was a 61-yard, game-winning touchdown.

Too often, fundamental communication techniques are also forgotten by individuals and organizations. The results can be devastating. Missed communication fundamentals can:

  • Create misunderstanding, confusion, and inefficiencies
  • Erode relationships, teamwork, and collaboration
  • Shutdown innovation and creativity
  • Increase resistance to change
  • Sink customer service and recovery efforts
  • Drive higher attrition, absenteeism, and employee disengagement

Still not convinced executing communication fundamentals are all that important?

Consider these research findings:

  • Poor communication leads to project failure 1/3rd of the time
  • A business with 100 employees spends an average downtime of 17 hrs. per week clarifying communication. That equates to an annual cost of over $500K.
  • HR professionals estimate that 80% of people who fail jobs do so because they can’t listen or communicate effectively.

So, how does your organization proactively address the common communication missed tackles below?

Each impacts how people in your organization (leaders and employees) think, feel, and act when communicating. Research has found:

  • 20-30% of what a sender intended to be heard is not understood by the receiver
  • Average person can only go 17 seconds before interrupting or interjecting
  • 49% of constructive feedback is naturally filtered out by the receiver
  • People following directions with text and illustrations do 300+% better than only text
  • Texting has a 99% open rate – emails 30%

It’s all about Balance.

Balance is also essential in football. If you are even slightly off balance, your tackling will be off and you will be unable to hold your position. Balance is also critical when tackling business communications – getting different elements in the ‘correct’ proportion. Organizations must balance:

  1. High tech and high touch communication strategies
  2. Communication processes that continually inform, teach, and reinforce fundamental communication skills such as providing clarity, active listening, and giving & accepting feedback
  3. Communication accountability for sharing information, generating understanding, and reinforcing key messages
  4. Actions and words that are aligned to build trust and connection
  5. Full engagement where communication is consistently done the right way, at the right time, for the right reason

Focusing on the basics has been a hallmark of many successful coaches and their teams. One such coach was the legendary Vince Lombardi, who started his 1961 training camp with the most elemental statement of all – “Gentlemen, this is a football.” He also had each of his professional athletes review how to block and tackle. Lombardi’s Packers never lost in the playoffs again.

An organization’s communication effectiveness and ultimate success is impacted by small choices, daily habits, and repeated actions. As James Clear wrote, “Without the fundamentals, the details are useless.”

Are you ready to tackle your communication challenges?


Brian Gareau

Brian Gareau

Speaker, author and consultant Brian Gareau has 30+ years of experience helping organizations to accelerate and sustain higher performance through improvements in their people (Engagement) and processes (Business Culture). Brian is also a leading expert in administering Culture Assessments and turning that data into real action that directly and positively impacts his clients’ bottom line.

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