The Mihir Chronicles

On Communication

February 29, 2024

This topic is equally both underrated and overrated depending on where you fall on the spectrum of your professional journey.

Being forced to take classes on communication in college was the most frustrating thing ever. I found it to be a waste of time. I didn't need to be told in my 20s on how to communicate, why to communicate and how often to communicate. After a decade, the topic comes back to haunt me. Clear communication plays a big role in driving success for all teams—design, engineering, product, business and operation. Communication is THE job in every discipline. One should attempt to master this critical life skill!

Communication is an attitude of openness towards the other. It is an art that drives winning teams. It must be continuously practiced. Mutual understanding is hard but the difference between great and excellence might come down to how effectively everyone communicates. Poor communication is toxic and leads to more work.

General communication tips

  • Communication implies responsibility—on the part of the listener and on the part of the speaker. This is effective communication.
  • Listening is key for both the listener and speaker. Listen without interrupting. Leverage both ears.
  • We communicate to share ideas or influence others.
  • Repetition is a key while influencing others around you.
    • Here's what I think
    • Here's why
    • Here's an example
    • Remind everyone again what the point you are making
  • Strive for connection over perfection by daring to be dull. Answer the question. Give the feedback requested.
  • Communicate the big elephant in the room without blaming someone.
  • Speak from facts. State when your opinions are your opinions. Leave nothing to chance or assumptions.
  • What you call or label something matters. Using different taxonomy in different groups is poison because there is no shared understanding.
  • Facial expression and body language are part of communication.
  • Communication is logical and so is emotional.
  • Be direct, succinct and kind in your message. People don’t have the energy, time, or desire to try to read smoke signals to figure out what you want them to say or do.
  • Good communication requires empathy.
  • Be authentic and have fun. No one wants to hear a robot speak.
    • Drop the "good/great" question.
    • Drop the "does that make sense?" after answering your question.
  • Don't be a victim when someone shares their perspective in a conversation.
  • Don't be passive-aggressive towards a person that is genuinely sharing his/her perspective.
  • Disagreements are welcomed. Respect is maintained during these disagreements.
  • Group learning is valued.
  • Thoughtful responses should be welcomed. Offer more time if someone asks for it. Urgency is overrated.
  • Do not polarize the group by oversimplifying the nuances to get out of decision-making or doing the actual work.
  • Able to adapt when new information is shared.
  • Humor is the easiest way to captivate people when you're speaking to them or making a concept memorable.
  • Long form communication goes a long way than a traditional meeting because it helps everyone without repeating yourself.
  • Long form communication helps you think deeply and broadly.
  • Meetings should be a last resort.

The last point brings me to next topic on how to run effective meetings if you are going to use them.


Meetings aren't work. This social aspect of work is required for complex decision-making where no single person holds the entire context regarding a topic being discussed. Disciplined meetings are run by responsible players on the team to ensure no one's time is wasted. Tips on how you run meetings:

  • If you are in a managerial role—your job is to gather information, relay information or make a decision as a team. And everyone on the team is being paid to attend the meeting to make progress on items that need decisions. Regard attendance as showing up for work.
  • Consider yourself a chairperson of a meeting. You are responsible for the effectiveness of every meeting. If they are not running smoothly, the chairperson is to be blamed, not the attendees or the subordinates.
  • Call meeting if you know what you want to accomplish and whether it requires a meeting. If you know what you want to accomplish, but if it can be done via email or a chat, then a meeting is not justified. Asynchronous communication is justified.
  • As a chairperson, you must identify who should attend and convince people on why they should come. You need to follow up with everyone on importance of their attendance.
  • Keep your attendee list short. Decision-making is not a spectator sport.
  • Ensure attendees are not joining the meetings late. It is almost criminal for one person to show up late and waste and everyone else's time. Wasted time is wasted dollar of your organization. It is equivalent to stealing a computer. As a chairperson it is your responsibility to not let someone steal everyone's time.
  • As a chairperson, send out an agenda a day before which clearly states the purpose of the meeting and the responsibility of each attendee for a desired outcome.
  • As a chairperson, it is your responsibility to be a timekeeper and keep the discussion moving.
  • Be cautious of tabling items if a decision needs to be reached. It is okay to table items if further insight or people are needed to make a decision. However, it is a responsibility of a decision maker to make decisions if there are varying opinions on how to get something done. Coming together and not making any decision in spite of all information being available is costly.
  • Once the meeting is over, the chairperson is responsible to send out notes on what was discussed and the outcomes for each one of the agenda items. Ensure each outcome is timestamped and accessible for everyone on the team, so the team can go back and visit. This should be done within a reasonable time.

Further reading