3 Executive Communication Traps

Are you falling into one of these three communication traps?


Founder and president of EchelonCommunicate, Melissa Gordon, reveals a phenomenon that she identifies as executive communication traps. As leaders, employing management principles that cultivate our leadership ability help our teams grow and our organizations rival competition. But, if leaders fall into executive communication traps, advancement can be stalled. 

Melissa shares that three executive communication gaps are: overcommunicating, underselling and telling people what to do. In this video, she shares valuable insights explaining each of these three communication traps and why they derail great leaders. Are you overcommunicating? Do you undersell? How often do you tell people what to do? 

Watch this video to learn how to overcome these three executive communication gaps.

I observed a phenomenon I have decided to call the Executive Communication Trap. And there are three things that I see a lot of that we work on. And it's overcommunicating, underselling and telling people what to do.

Overcommunicating is really… it is a clouded world, there are messages coming from everywhere and they are constant and they are all day and a big job that we all have is discerning what will I look like and what will I not look at and should I get this or not. And so there is a lot of noise. And as a leader you want to makes sure that when you speak, people listen. And one of the ways to do that is not to be part of the noise. And so overcommunicating, saying the same things over and over and over has to be done very, very carefully. So a single message that's a theme that you repeat often that people get used to is reinforcement. A ton of things all the time is not reinforcement, its noise. So being choiceful about your channels, identifying your audience, what are your key messages and what do you need to say to this very specific group? That's how you get out of being part of the noise and you get listened to, you get heard.

Underselling is just thinking that the people who work for you don't need what the external customer needs. They don't need to be jazzed, they don't need to be rallied, they don't need to be excited. It's just information. We spend a lot of money, a great deal of energy and focus on our external communication and when it comes to internal, we forget that we are all humans who are responsive to advertising. And so there is a lack of selling that happens. By selling, I mean rallying the troops, energizing the troops, being influential, inspiring. Somebody who sees you cast a vision and say, "This is where we are going and this is what we're going to do," and you feel a feeling inside like, "I just want to work on that. I just want to go there." That is the powerful.

What I see a lot of this, you are like a human binder. You are just landing all of your information on someone and being surprised when they just look glassy eyed. Because what we want from people, we want human connection, we want stories, we want to be transported someplace else. And in fact if you do that, then I'll go find the binder, I'll read the binder, I'll get informed. I'll willingly go do that, but it has to start with power and presence. You have to have a point of view, you have to have passion about something and share that.

And then telling people what to do, we are not in a command and control universe anymore. The best you can hope for if you tell people to do is that they'll do it. But what you really want is so much more than that. You want something to you come back that you couldn't even come up with to ask for.

I had someone so great recently. In the old days, you put your personality on the hook before you entered the office, sort of like putting a hat on hook. You hung up your personality and you went to work. And then that was my grandfather's generation. In my generation, we took it out a little bit but we were choiceful. And now, today, millennials, it's all me all the time. It's my personality from morning to night and I am expressing it and I am… there is no such thing as putting it aside for a minute. And so this is just a very different environment. We want to see people with a personality. We connect to human beings with a personality and so telling people what to do is just to bypass someone's personality, their goals, their interests, their purpose, and we really want to get out of telling people what to do and invite people to bring us the answers, to bring us their great ideas and not be constricted by what we are limited. And so when you tell people what to do, that just closes down their creativity and innovation and instead open ended questions, inviting opportunity, asking, listening is the solution to getting out of telling people what to do.

Melissa Gordon

Melissa Gordon is President and founder of EchelonCommunicate, LLC, the Leader’s communication company. Working at the intersection of great leadership and powerful communication, Echelon provides high impact learning programs, execut...

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