Communication is vital to making relationships work. Whether the relationship is professional or personal, communication will continue to be a hot topic since it’s something we can all improve on. A quick Google search for “communication” yields 1,110,000,000 results while “effective communication skills” has 72,100,000 results.
Being a communication master is just one of the five characteristics that define an “A Player.” With remote workers becoming more and more common, communication generally falls into the digital category. With over 182 billion emails sent and received per day, 9.6 billion text messages sent/day, and 3 billion phone calls made in the US per day, there is a lot of room to make all sorts of communication mistakes.
We’ve outlined the most common communication mistakes to watch out for and how you can fix them.
1. Making Assumptions
Yes, the easiest way to step on someone’s toes is to assume you know something when you don’t. Being a good communicator means listening to understand what’s being said and clarifying those points. If you’re listening at surface level, you could be missing the gaps in the information that can lead you to asking better questions and getting a better picture of issues. It’s best to rephrase, summarize, or repeat back information instead of making the assumption that you’ve understood the message being sent. As you would follow-up with receiving information, it’s important to follow-up when giving information. Don’t leave important points up for interpretation or assumptions.
2. Infrequently following up
When communicating on action plans, status reports or strategies it’s important that those messages are being sent in a timely manner. If you’re ultimately responsible for a process, asking someone for their piece a day before it’s due could result in missed deadlines. Instead, try to stay involved in the steps of the process to ensure that everything will be completed on time. Asking and providing status reports are a way for you to know what’s being accomplished with tasks you’re not responsible for and set the example for what communication is to look like when completing tasks you are responsible for.
3. Talking Down
This can be a make it or break if situation for consultants in the IT field. If you’re working with someone who may not be as advanced or technical as you, or they’re in another department completely, you gain trust when you can take a complex concept and put it on words your coworkers or clients understand. Trust is important with effective communications. Condescending or belittling tones or gestures can be detrimental when working to complete a task with others. No one likes working with a meanie.
4. Neglecting to Edit
With so much digital communication, it’s easy to hit “send” and hope for the best. Take the time to read through and double check dates, times, responsibilities, and outcomes. Putting a wrong date in an email could throw off a project and taking the two minutes to re-read would’ve saved you and your team the headache.
5. Picking the wrong channel
There are some situations which can easily be resolved with a quick email or a quick proof-read email. Other times there may be a need for a video conference or face-to-face meeting to cover and incorporate the other layers of communication including non-verbal cues. Knowing the right time to send a text or email versus scheduling a call or an in-person meeting is crucial? Delivering bad news is better received when given face-to-face. It may not be easier but you can show empathy and confidence better in person than through a rambling email.
What other ways do you see communication gone awry and how have you fixed it?