Bad Communication: Is It Me or Is It Them?

By Andrew Jennings, CCO – Every Friday, we send out our “Fearless Friday” quote which speaks to topics we feel strongly about. Interestingly, of all the communication we distribute, this one is by far the most popular. Why do I mention this? Well, it’s not only our community that gets something from this, we do as well. For example, I was about to write this article, when this week’s quote hit my inbox:


What struck me about this is how often we come across communication challenges in organizations. In fact, I would say that most of the problems we encounter in teams are related to communication issues or bad communication. For example, the two most challenging areas of team dynamics we see are: Productive Conflict – this area is fraught with communication challenges, which are only heightened with the emotional component that always accompanies conflict. Then there’s Accountability – one of the most challenging areas of team dynamics. The biggest challenge here is often a lack of clearly articulated direction. Again, a break-down in communication. Unfortunately, it seems that bad communication is sometimes rampant in organizations.

So, when it comes to communication challenges, the answer to the question, “Is it me, or is it them?” is simply, yes. It’s both! Now, as most of us know, changing other people is a hopeless crusade. The only person we can change is us . . . ourselves . . . me!

A big part of everyone’s leadership journey is the process of building self-awareness. However, in order to be self-aware, we need to spend a little time looking in the mirror and gaining some self-knowledge. Who am I really? What motivates me? What is my communication style?

Some of these questions are big and require a fair amount of time and effort to answer. However, when it comes to communication styles, there is a plethora of tools that can help you understand both your and your team’s communication styles. These tools provide valuable insight into how each of us prefer to give and receive information. The best of them also give guidance on adapting your style to better meet others where they are. Whether we are working with individuals or teams, we have found these tools are an invaluable resource to help bridge communication gaps and introduce the concept of flexing your own style to better meet others — without compromising your authenticity.

The communications style tool we use is called Everything DiSC®. We really like this assessment as it is very practical, a core tenant of all the work we do, and provides individuals with access to comparison reports. These reports act as relationship coaching guides — citing similarities and differences between you and a co-worker, with tips on how to work better together. This tool also has a suite of products aimed at different job functions, including specific reports for sales and management.

Regardless of which tool you use, understanding yourself is the first step on your path to Fearless Leadership. Just imagine if you were to become a master of communicating and able to entirely avoid bad communication. How powerful could that be when it comes to motivating others toward achieving their goals?

Take a moment and think about someone you may have communication challenges with. How might you improve that bad communication? What adjustments to your delivery might bring a breakthrough in understanding? Remember, if you get stuck, we are always happy to help and only a phone call away.

Interested in learning more about your communication style? Check out our upcoming workshop in the Lead Like You Mean It series: Leveraging Communication Styles with Everything DiSC Workplace®.