In the past 4 years, I have directly worked with 100+ people, sold to 150+ customers, spoken to more than 100 investors and had a (40min+) conversation with a 1000 different people. I have been part of an engineering team, worked with Sales guys, led a marketing team, brainstormed with Product Managers, create processes for Operations, learned the hard way how to work with Designers. I have interacted with lawyers (very tough!), worked with accounting team, negotiated with vendors (that includes our previous\u00a0chaiwalla) and a hundred other kinds of people.\r\n\r\nWhat surprised me is that there is one thing that cut across all of these functions\u200a\u2014\u200aEffective Communication.\r\nWhat is communication?\r\n\r\n\r\nAs you can see there are multiple parts of communication. There is a sender, who has some intent, he\/she creates a message, sends it over a medium (which has\u00a0noise), the receiver receives the message, creates a perception and then gives feedback.\r\n\r\nThere are 2 components of a message, verbal message (which you know) and the non-verbal message (which is your body language and is equally important).\r\n\r\nSo, a seemingly innocuous process of 2 people talking is in fact highly complex one. There are multiple points of failures\u200a\u2014\u200asender may not send the right message, their body language maybe incorrect, there might be too much noise, the receiver might not be in the right state to receive the message.\r\n\r\nIt is not just about\u00a0sending\u00a0your message; it\u2019s about making sure your message is\u00a0received\u00a0by the other person.\r\n\r\nComing back to my point, effective communication is the single most important skill that you can develop. It can win you customers, it can get you funding, it can help you make allies, it can help you get any task done!\r\n\r\nThe most common excuse that I get these days, is that I had told him\/her to do this but they didn\u2019t do it. Or, I did it right, but that guy messed it up.\r\n\r\nIf someone didn\u2019t do a job well, which you told them about, it\u2019s as much your fault as it is their fault. Did you ensure that the other person gets your message, did you ensure if they actually understood it, did you ask if they need some help with it? The problem is that most of us speak to\u00a0convince\u00a0and not\u00a0communicate. The moment you accept that failed communication is as much your fault as that of the other person, your problem is solved.\r\n\r\nWait! Effective communication is not just about speaking well, it\u2019s equally about listening. A good communicator speaks only\u00a030% of the time, rest of the time they listen. You would be surprised the amount things you would get to know, if you focus less on hammering in your message and focus more listening to what the other person has to say.\r\n\r\nIn the above image, you can see that each person has his\/her own reality. This is the context in which they exist and it determines how they perceive things. Let me illustrate with an example.\r\n\r\nWhen I was young, we would play this game. We would sit in a circle, one person will start with a message whisper it to the other person (in their ear), the next person would do the same with the next and so on. At the end, last person would tell what they had heard.\r\n\r\nI once started the game with the message \u2018My mom doesn\u2019t take me to this shop, because they sell interesting things to kids\u2019 ended up with \u2018My mom works in a shop that sells kids\u2019. The problem was each person sitting in the circle perceived the message in their own reality, there were disturbances in the communication channel and their reality differed from the other person\u2019s. Hence, by the time a message goes across a circle it loses all its meaning.\r\n\r\nEven something as tangible as writing code, involves communication. What do you think it is, when someone else reads your code and works on top of it? It\u2019s communication, just that the medium is non-verbal (that\u2019s why great programmers write comments and make their code readable).\r\n\r\nSo next time you feel agitated because someone didn\u2019t do what you asked them to do, ask yourself did I communicate it properly.\r\n\r\nWhen you feel someone said wrong things to you or insulted you, ask yourself were they really being mean or did I misinterpret it!\r\n\r\nWhen you feel, the other person just doesn\u2019t understand what you are saying, ask yourself am I trying to understand what they are saying!\r\n\r\nWhen you feel the other person doesn\u2019t care about you, is it really true or it\u2019s just their reality and your reality are totally different.\r\n\r\nEffective communication is not only critical at your work life, but even your personal life. It can help you win a heart, it can let you make someone feel special, it can help you add warmth in relationships.\r\n\r\nI give you a simple mantra to communicate effectively. Every time you are about to speak, wait, take\u00a05 seconds, think what\u2019s a better way to say that thing and speak that instead.