How Effective Communication is Like Running

running in new york

In some ways, effective communication is like running. There are many types of running events and distances, and there are many different methods of communicating. In order to effectively communicate, one must train regularly to strengthen those talking and writing muscles. The good news is, the more you practice, the better you become!

Let’s take a closer look at how effective communication is like running:

The Relay

A relay race is between two or more teams, where each teammate covers a specified portion of the distance. Team members take turns and the shared responsibility is passed on.

In communication terms, the relay is like:

  • Sending emails back and forth
  • Chatting via text messages or instant messages
  • Process and chain of communication from leadership to employees, and vice versa

In the relay, messages get passed from person to person. To win the relay race, each participant must contribute to the best of their ability, and collaborate with their team to smoothly pass the message along. If the baton gets dropped, you may lose the race. However, if you and your team are in sync, you all win.

The Sprint

Sprinting is the act of running over a short distance at, or near, top speed. It is used in many sports that incorporate running, typically as a way of quickly reaching a target or goal.

In communication, the sprint is like:

  • A phone call
  • A meeting
  • An event announcement

In the sprint, you are trying to get your information through to the others, with speed. There’s usually a short time to do it, and it’s important to have the right objective and mindset prepared before your sprint. Be clear on what you want to see at the finish line.

The Marathon

The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26.2 miles) The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens.

In communication, the marathon is like:

  • Communication processes and tools
  • Communicating organizational changes

In the marathon, you need to pace yourself over time, and refuel regularly. Similarly, when you are improving communications processes and tools, or communicating org changes, it takes time to carefully evaluate what needs to be done. Rushing at the beginning without a sustainable plan will ensure that you crash before you can finish.  It’s advised to refuel by checking in with others at the “aid station” for their valuable opinions and input before you proceed.

The Ultramarathon

An ultramarathon, also called ultra distance, is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 26.2 miles.

In communication, the ultramarathon is like:

  • Company culture around communication

In the ultramarathon, there will be highs and there will be lows as you go a very long (sometimes grueling) distance. What’s important is visualizing the ecstasy that you will feel when you’ve accomplished your goal of completing the ultramarathon…when you gone the extra mile–mile after mile. The same could be said when trying to build a company culture around communication. You gotta have a vision. You gotta have grit. And you must certainly have patience. Creating a company culture that prides itself on good communication will take time and a supportive crew by your side. But when you come around that last hill, it’ll be worth it as your employees collectively cheer for you.

We hope we’ve got you excited about effective communication. Now get out there and hit the ground running!


Written on January 14, 2016 by Jennifer Choi

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