Communication Is Crucial & Underrated

Communication is important to me. It's more than a LinkedIn bullet point or generic skill in a cover letter meant to seduce a prospective employer. It is really important. It facilitates the spread of information that then becomes knowledge. That knowledge allows recipients to improve themselves, adjust expectations, make requests, accomplish tasks, assuage fears, and avoid surprises. Communication is an essential tool in quieting one's "lizard brain." It has helped me build strong relationships and trust, which provided a foundation for risk-taking (note: I said "quiet" the lizard brain, not kill it).

Yet, communication remains a constant challenge–not in practicing it, but in being patient when someone else's failure to communicate undermines my efforts to the contrary. It scuttled a large project of mine last year. More recently, it prevented small projects from getting off the ground. Being able to say "At least I communicated my goals/feelings!" is little consolation because it doesn't change the fact that the projects are dead or that the time spent in pursuit is now gone. But, by having communicated something, I can reflect and try to improve future communications are more likely to have the desired effect. Maybe I pushed too hard or too soon. Maybe I was talking to the wrong person. Maybe there was never going to be sufficient financial or institutional support anyway. Maybe they didn't like me. Maybe there was a fatal typo.

There are many legitimate reasons that could explain a professional disappointment or failure. The worst thing is not the failure itself. It's not knowing why. It's having to scroll through the possibilities in one's head until realizing I'm probably never going to know. There's only one way I could: communication.

But it's a two-way street.