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If You Can Only Focus on One Thing …


Ok, so it is probably not realistic to only focus on one thing … be it as an employee, aspiring leader, or existing leader … given the breadth of responsibilities we all have. However, there is one thing that I have found that consistently has dramatic impacts on one’s career that makes it most worthy of significant focus. In my own experience, and that of virtually everyone I know, communication skills are one thing that we can all continuously improve throughout our lives and that are so incredibly important.

So you’re probably thinking to yourself …“well, of course, I already know how to communicate.” Trust me … while we all might know how to communicate, most of us haven’t mastered how to do it most effectively on a consistent basis. In fact, I am firmly of the belief that VERY few people truly know how to effectively communicate. When considering the communication options we face in any situation, it comes down to four very simply alternatives:

  • Saying the wrong thing
  • Saying nothing when saying something is the best course of action
  • Saying something when silence is the best course of action
  • Saying the right thing

As sad as it might sound, more often than not, most of us wind up taking one of the first three alternatives. After all, how many times has the following happened to you:

A couple of hours after a being in a meeting or sending an e-mail you think to yourself, “I should have mentioned x, y or z,” or, “I should have worded that e-mail this way instead of the way that I did”?

In many cases, it’s simply a matter of thinking before we blurt out our initial thoughts or feelings. However, it’s difficult to have the discipline during a conversation to say that you need time to think before responding. For some unknown social reason we all feel pressure to have all the answers, portray that we are quick thinking, or simply get uncomfortable in an extended silence such that we fill it by speaking before thinking.

We all must learn that it is better to get “it” right than to get “it” fast. Taking the necessary time to gather one’s thoughts and responses yields great returns. If there is a suggestion to be made here, it is to become comfortable with the silence that exists while you collect your thoughts. Better to be regarded as “deliberate” and “thoughtful” than “rash” and “impetuous.”

Nina Nets It Out: While I am not a fan of the notion of complacency in general, I am REALLY not a fan of it when it comes to one’s ability to communicate. I continuously strive to improve my ability to communicate more effectively and those that I know who have been in business for many years, consistently say that communication is the one thing they wish that they themselves and those around them were better at.


  1. Nice, succinct and comprehensive post, Nina.

  2. Thanks as always Wally! :-)

  3. I visited your blog through reading Harvard Business review publication.

    Good work!

    John Ekundayo

  4. John,
    Many thanks for your kind words and for reading my blog. I have some close friends in Singapore and appreciate your taking time from your day to share in my thoughts & writings.

  5. Hi Nina,

    Great article on what I would say as the most important and critical factor for mankind’s existance. Hence, I dare support your title!

    Just to share my claim. Just take a good deep look around us and what do you see is the byproduct and consequence of “over or under” communication. This is the essence of leadership and why in some parts of the world situations are is regressing with distrust. You can even say the way our brain works or thinks is an act of communication. I would even go on the say, based on the law of attraction, that how one engages the energy field is related to comminucation. So is creativity, innovativeness and every other capabilities that we need to sustain in life.

    As you rightly pointed out, chosing when not to speak is also communicating. As a result, people are even beginning to explore the world of NLP & hypnoteraphy to understand the unspoken communication.

    I have embarked into Coaching and realise the criticality of leveraging communciation into the process of unearthing rooted causes to issues.

    Thank you.

  6. Yuvarajah,
    Great comment. Thanks for sharing. I wish you well in your coaching.

  7. Dear Nina,

    Just came across your blog and found it to be exceptional. Certainly one of the most informative, easy to navigate and information rich blogs that I have come across.

    You have a great writing style that demystifies complex ideas and makes them simple and easy to understand. I intend to take the time to read through all of your posts in the coming weeks.

    I am a business writer based in Australia. My own blog has a high traffic flow and I intend to do a post directing people to your site.

    All the best.
    Andrew Griffiths

  8. Andrew,
    A heartfelt thanks for your kind words. I imagine in your role [as I learned from a quick review of your website], that you come across many writers and business people.

    As for me, I try to write in a style that can be readily understood and implemented by readers who care to give it a go. I sincerely welcome any other comments that you might have on other entries of mine and will try to do a bit of reading on your blog as well.

    Thanks for the reference to my site and I will be adding your blog site to my blogroll as well!!


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