Communication supports the sustained, shared intention required for big change. Change that challenges the status quo requires strong and sustained intention. Advancing significant challenges such as equity or systems change requires clear intention, shared beyond the affected community to the range of stakeholders needed to drive change, working through adjustments and sustaining the change over time.
Effective communication is proactive, comprehensive and strategic. Too many partnership leaders think about communication as media (traditional and social), meeting minutes and newsletters. Strategic communication takes planning and messaging based on clear purpose, knowledge of the audience(s) and desired action(s). While it takes time, this proactive investment supports both the internal functioning of partnerships as well as project strategy and external relations.
Effective communication is often multi-directional and reciprocal. Partnership leaders often communicate with groups or support the communication of others. Reciprocal communication that emphasizes listening and learning is an indispensable habit of facilitative leadership and partnership. It increases the value and impact of all communications, builds understanding and trust, and strengthens working bonds at all levels, across all settings and with all kinds of people.
Strategic communication supports diverse working relationships and teamwork. Successful partnerships build purposeful and authentic relationships across and among all levels and stakeholder groups. Strategic communication is a critical support to the kind of relationship building that capitalizes on diversity. It helps to connect and inform partners; bridge gaps in understanding; establish common commitments; build trust, reciprocity and accountability; validate decisions and enable teamwork. When the work occurs in multi-lingual communities, language justice can be an important consideration for realizing the potential of strategic communication.
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