3 common communication mistakes we make with the C-Suite


Are you an Overcompensator, an Expert or an Assumor? Chances are, if you’re like one of the leaders I’ve worked with over the years, you can have a bit of each of these common communication styles in you from time to time when it comes to the way you interact with the C. -suite. Here’s what I learned: These styles are incredibly easy to see in others and less so in ourselves, and they can keep us from being as good as possible in front of some of our most important audiences. I’ve experienced them all and so have my clients, and the good news is that once you see it in yourself, you can deal with it.

Here’s a quick look at three common styles:

The overcompensator.

The mantra of the Overcompensator is this: I want you to know how hard we have worked.

You know you’re overcompensated when: In every meeting or presentation they seem to have an endless amount of activity to report, with slide after slide listing initiatives, projects, or updates. The subtext reads: We have been very busy, we have put in tremendous effort, we have done a lot of things, we are taking [insert important issue in here] very seriously. Tends to appear in board meetings and quarterly business reviews. Overcompensators can be some of your busiest, hardest working leaders who also put too much emphasis on the business instead of demonstrating results. If you’re leading a team of overcompensators, you might say, “Let’s stop talking about what we’re working on and instead start talking about where we’re delivering results. “

The expert.

The expert’s mantra is: If I share enough information with you, you’ll understand why I’m right.

You know you’re with an expert when: In every meeting or presentation, they present much more information than you want or need. You will get a lot of detail and data, but it won’t necessarily help you make a decision or understand the big picture, with a lot of “what” but not enough “so what”. Experts can be accused of speaking too much (especially when answering questions), of being in the shadows, of annoying the audience, or of over-preparing (after all, you never know when you can get it right. ask a difficult question). What Experts Can Work On: A “less is more” mindset guided by better judgment and insight, so that they include the right information (not all information) in their messages.

The Assumor.

The mantra of Assume is this: I already understand what you want and need, so let’s move on to the next steps.

You know you’re with an Assume when: You feel rushed or sold. As the name suggests, Assumers tend to make assumptions about their audience. This is why they will leave a meeting and think there is an agreement for a next step to encounter silence or inaction. The problem for the Assumers is that no one else necessarily thinks there is a problem to the extent that they do, or has the commitment to fix it yet. Presumers can be accused of lacking in curiosity, not asking enough questions, or believing that the public has subscribed prematurely before it actually does. What Assumers can work on: Prove to themselves and others that their audience cares as much about solving a problem and meeting a challenge as they do before taking action.

If you see these styles popping up on your team, share this article with them and use it as a starting point on what can interfere with their impact and how to present yourself differently with high stakes audiences.

Next time: we’ll take a look at a few more common styles: Unknown, Defender, Needy.