C is for communication, it’s a big and all-encompassing word. It’s a foundation for successful leaders, people, projects, companies, and relationships. Finding communication a “challenge” at an early age made me appreciate it more! I didn’t say a single optional word in first grade. When I was sixteen I snuck out and paid with my own money to attend an assertiveness training workshop. Not being a natural communicator, I’ve spent my life learning to speak up and communicate better, and somewhere along the line I figured out how important communication is. Leaders can inspire and motivate others with a look or a single phrase. When the university I work for started a graduate level Project Management Course, the course I believed was the most important, and that I helped to create and then teach, was Leadership and Communication for Project Managers. In this class, each student became the class leader for 10 minutes to review one homework assignment. From that class and other personal sources below I have listed the top ten communication challenges.

Communication is a three-step dance.

Step one – You put a message out – Honey I’m cold, can you pass me the blanket?

Step two – The message is acknowledged. Honey says, “yes” or shakes his head.

Step three – The message is understood – Honey hands you the blanket.

If I’m not acknowledged (step 2), I might get frustrated and keep asking for what I want in different ways: Please pass me the blanket.   Is there a blanket next to you? Are you using the blanket? If I’m acknowledged (step 2) and not understood (step 3), I might rephrase the message, I might get mad, I might get up and get the blanket that is next to Honey.   Honey may understand (step 3) my request differently, and instead of getting me a blanket he might hug me or get up and turn up the heat or tell me to get a sweater.   All three steps keep repeating until clarity and understanding occur. If the communication dance stops before understanding happens, communication breakdowns and misunderstandings occur that can lead to:


  • Stress
  • Overwhelm
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Conflicts
  • Difficult relationships
  • Trouble getting results
  • Divorce

Excellent communicators are flexible and adaptable in the three-step dance.   The ability to communicate effectively reduces stress, improves influencing ability, and increases trust.