Don’t spill the message


Your boss just gave you a critical piece of information that you need to relay to your teams. As you leave her office, you feel like you understand the directive and can effectively communicate it to your employees.

But then…

When you go to share the message, you realize you aren’t as clear on the details as you thought. You get questions from your employees that you can’t answer. You see your team leave the meeting with confused looks and you can tell they didn’t really get or buy into your message.

What happened? You spilled the message.

Picture a bucket of water. If you were transporting water from one place to another, its inevitable that you’ll spill some along the way. If you want to make sure it’s full when it gets to its destination, you will add more water from another source.

And that’s what happens with communication. When you left your boss’ office, were you really clear on what it was you had to communicate, or did some of the details “spill out” because you didn’t write them down or ask enough clarifying questions? Did you supplement the message with your own interpretation (adding water from a hose) that ended up clouding the message?

We know that communication is CRITICAL to effectively leading our teams – especially now! Here are a few things you can do to make sure you aren’t “spilling the message”:

  • Write things down – if you are a good note taker, jot down key and specific points that you don’t want to forget.
  • Record the meeting – ask for permission, but recording the meeting is a great way to be able to go back and hear EXACTLY what was said you aren’t relying on your memory.
  • Ask clarifying questions, even after the meeting – you may feel like you “got it” when talking with your manager, but later you may have questions. Before you relay this to your team, ask your boss additional questions to help you understand.

RELATED: Don’t miss this free IAAPA webinar on Caring for Team Members Through Crisis!

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So the next time you have to have to relay important information (which is all the time), think about that bucket of water. Did you spill any, or add some in that doesn’t belong?

Thanks for reading!

Matt Heller
Distinguished author, speaker, and industry veteran Matt Heller can sum up what he does in three simple words: Helping Leaders Lead.  Matt’s firm, Performance Optimist Consulting, has worked with some of the largest attraction operators in the United States, including Six Flags, Cedar Fair, Universal Studios, Apex Parks Group, and Herschend Family Entertainment, along with countless other parks, zoos, museums, and aquariums.  Matt focuses on leadership development, guest service training, eliminating employee burnout, and reducing turnover.

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