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Over-communicating: How Much Is Too Much for Effective Leadership?

Overcommunicating: How Much Is Too Much for Effective Leadership

In the realm of leadership, few things are as detrimental as incomplete communication. I have personally been bumping up against this idea on all my leadership fronts the past few weeks. I have received partial information, entirely wrong information, overly general, undefined and non-specific information, had to chase down deadlines, revisit expectations, processes, roles and responsibilities that had been unstated, and the list goes on.  


When we do not communicate completely, early and often in any collaborative process, then the frustration, anxiety and stress mounts very quickly. Not surprisingly, the stress and anxiety tends to make our lack of communication even worse, because, at that point, who has time then to slow down and clearly communicate?


Brené Brown aptly captures this sentiment in her quote, "Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind." Yet, the train wreck of incomplete communication keeps playing out right in front of me. I am being clearly reminded that despite our best intentions, we often fall into the trap of assuming we're in danger of over-communicating when, in reality, we're actually doing the opposite: under-communicating – especially when we are stressed with our workload, or anxious about making a good impression – two situations no leader can afford to stay in for any amount of time.


This blog post delves into the misconceptions surrounding communication in leadership and highlights the importance of true over-communication.


Mistaken Assumptions that Block Clear Communication:

  1. Assuming Prior Knowledge: One common pitfall is assuming that others possess the same level of understanding or context. This can lead to critical details being left unsaid, causing confusion and misunderstandings.

  2. Fear of Offending: We may withhold information for fear of seeming patronizing or interruptive. However, by doing so, we deprive others of valuable insights and opportunities to contribute.

  3. Time Constraints: Busy schedules often tempt us to streamline communication, neglecting thoroughness for brevity. Yet, this shortcut can result in incomplete information and costly errors down the line.

  4. Presumption of Clarity: Sometimes, we mistakenly believe our message is crystal clear when it's actually shrouded in ambiguity. This assumption can lead to missed expectations and frustration.

  5. Avoidance of Conflict: In an effort to maintain harmony, we may refrain from addressing difficult topics or providing constructive feedback. However, this reluctance only perpetuates issues and inhibits growth.


What "Over-communicating" Is Not:

  • A Disruption: While some may perceive frequent communication as disruptive, it's essential for alignment and progress. Acknowledge concerns but emphasize the greater benefits of clarity.

  • Unprofessional: There's a misconception that excessive communication reflects incompetence or inefficiency. In reality, it demonstrates dedication to transparency and accountability.

  • Disrespectful: Overcommunication is often misconstrued as a lack of trust or micromanagement. However, it stems from a genuine desire to ensure everyone is on the same page and empowered to succeed.


What “Over-communicating” Is:

  1. Specifying Timeframes: Clearly specify the timeframe for each task or project milestone. Include start dates, end dates, and any intermediate deadlines to keep everyone aligned with the timeline.

  2. Agreeing on Priorities: Rank tasks or objectives based on their importance and urgency. Communicate these priorities to ensure that team members focus their efforts on the most critical tasks first.

  3. Setting Manageable Deadlines: Explicitly state deadlines for deliverables and milestones. Ensure that deadlines are realistic and achievable, taking into account the complexity of the task and the resources available.

  4. Defining Roles and Responsibilities: Define the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in the project. Clearly outline who is responsible for what tasks, who needs to be consulted or informed, and who has decision-making authority.

  5. Building Parameters: Set clear parameters and constraints for the project, such as budget limitations, resource availability, and technical requirements. Ensure that everyone understands the boundaries within which they need to operate.

  6. Clarifying Scope: Define the scope of the project, including what is included and what is not included. Clearly outline the deliverables, objectives, and expectations to prevent scope creep and ensure alignment.

  7. Determining Communication Channels: Specify the communication channels to be used for different types of communication. Whether it's email, meetings, project management tools, or instant messaging platforms, ensure that everyone knows how and when to communicate.

  8. Creating Feedback Mechanisms: Establish feedback mechanisms to encourage open communication and continuous improvement. Provide opportunities for team members to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns throughout the project lifecycle.

  9. Establishing Progress Reporting: Implement a system for regular progress reporting to keep stakeholders informed about the project status. Define what information needs to be included in progress reports and how often they will be shared.

  10. Developing Contingency Plans: Develop contingency plans for potential risks and challenges that may arise during the project. Communicate these plans to the team so that everyone knows how to respond in case of unexpected events.

  11. Sharing Relevant Information: Transparency in sharing relevant information empowers team members to make informed decisions and contribute effectively.

  12. Confirming Understanding: Checking for understanding ensures that messages are received and interpreted correctly, reducing the risk of misunderstandings.


Areas Where “Over-communicating” Is a Requirement

Here are areas where over-communicating is important to ensure clarity, alignment, and success:

  1. Presentations: Over-communicating in presentations involves thoroughly explaining key concepts, providing ample context, and addressing potential questions or concerns preemptively. This ensures that the audience fully understands the message and can engage meaningfully.

  2. Proposals: In proposals, overcommunicating entails clearly outlining the scope of work, deliverables, timelines, and budget considerations. Providing detailed explanations and supporting data helps build credibility and instills confidence in the proposal's feasibility.

  3. Projects: Overcommunicating in projects involves frequent updates on progress, potential roadblocks, and changes in direction. This keeps stakeholders informed and enables timely adjustments to ensure project objectives are met.

  4. Team Communication: Within teams, overcommunicating fosters transparency, collaboration, and accountability. Regular team meetings, status updates, and open channels for communication ensure that everyone is on the same page and can effectively coordinate their efforts.

  5. Client Communication: When interacting with clients, overcommunicating helps manage expectations, address concerns, and build trust. Providing regular updates on project status, soliciting feedback, and proactively addressing any issues demonstrate a commitment to client satisfaction.

  6. Training and Onboarding: During training and onboarding processes, overcommunicating ensures that new employees have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and the company's policies and procedures. Detailed explanations and opportunities for clarification help facilitate a smooth transition into their new roles.

  7. Change Management: In times of change, such as organizational restructuring or process improvements, overcommunicating is essential to minimize resistance and promote buy-in. Clearly articulating the reasons for the change, the expected outcomes, and the support available helps ease employees' concerns and encourages adoption.

  8. Conflict Resolution: When addressing conflicts or misunderstandings, overcommunicating involves actively listening to all parties involved, clarifying any misconceptions, and seeking mutually agreeable solutions. Thorough communication helps prevent escalation and fosters a culture of openness and collaboration.

  9. Customer Service: In customer service interactions, overcommunicating means being proactive in addressing customer needs, providing clear instructions or explanations, and following up to ensure satisfaction. Effective communication builds rapport and loyalty with customers.

  10. Performance Reviews: During performance reviews, overcommunicating involves providing specific, actionable feedback, setting clear goals and expectations for improvement, and discussing career development opportunities. Open dialogue ensures that employees understand their strengths and areas for growth.


To be clear, I hope I have “over-communicated” that leadership hinges on the ability to over-communicate rather than assuming. By dispelling mistaken assumptions and embracing clear, thorough communication, leaders can cultivate trust, foster collaboration, and drive success within their teams. Remember, clarity is not only kind—it's essential for progress.



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