Substance Over Style
March 24, 2022
We live in a world where everyone needs to engage and communicate with everyone else actively. People working in teams, working on projects, or dealing with clients, have the burden to inspire, transfer knowledge, deal with issues, and manage expectations.
This is where effective communication becomes key.
Sometimes, we get taken in by the illusion that good communication is about having good language skills, great style, or proficiency in vocabulary. All these are elements of communication style. What matters more is the substance in the communication. Having a good communication style with no substance is fluff. It may impress people on the first pass but will not serve any purpose beyond that.
But then, what does substance in communication mean?
Good communication has the power to influence change in the way others think and act. Substance is the ability to express your thoughts and ideas in a way where people receiving the message should be able to relate to and find meaning in what you are conveying. They should be emotionally invested in what is being conveyed and be willing to think and act differently based on the message.
If you are in sales, reeling out facts about your product is not substance. Understanding the customer situation and conveying the information in a relevant and relatable way is substance.
If you are a project leader, reeling out status updates is not substance. Conveying information that helps the team appreciate issues and action to take at a personal level is substance.
If you are a leader, sharing your vision is not substance. Connecting your vision to the aspirations of your teammates and their role in realizing the vision is substance.
Style is just the way you convey your messages. Substance is the content. Substance is the cake, while your style is the icing on the cake.
Whatever role you may be essaying, whether in sales, leadership, teaching, or project management, always think of this mental model- Substance over Style.