The Importance of Good Communication
Communication: the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.
Communication, it is a simple enough word. Why can it be so difficult? Whether it be in your personal or professional life there are different personality types, moods, and experiences that color every single conversation you have. In today’s world information can travel at the speed of light with modern technology. Therefore it is vital to make sure that your communication skills are up to date.
Take a leap, and think of business as a whole. Regardless of industry, company, or location for a business to function correctly it requires people communicating effectively with one another. Whether that be in person, over the phone, via email, instant messenger, text, FaceTime or Skype. Your position could require you to communicate with 1 or 50 people from 1 or 100 times a day. There are very few people who would be able to say that they can do their job without communicating with other people.
With communication comes miscommunication or “to communicate mistakenly, unclearly, or inadequately.” – Dictionary.com
How can we avoid miscommunication? There are a multitude of books that have been written on that subject. Here are 5 of the biggest things you can do, starting right now to stop communication failures and make sure that you relationships both in and out of the office are healthy, happy, and wise.
The 5 Communication Pitfalls
1 – Waiting to say something
If a breakdown in communication happens and the situation is frustrating for you don’t wait to resolve the issue. However, you should take time to think about how you want to respectfully address the person or people involved. You always want to be respectful in your approach. Waiting too long to say something can lead to harboring feelings of resentment that will never be resolved.
As I stated previously everyone has a different combination of personality and experiences that will color their view of the world and how they see your comments. They will not react the same way that you would or the way that you expect. So be strategic in how you approach them and keep an open mind when they react, keep in mind you probably don’t know their whole story or what additional stress and emotions they are bringing to the conversation. Be patient and kind. Don’t wait, it won’t end well for either side.
2 – Not saying anything at all
If you’re an introvert it can be difficult to talk about things that you view as conflict. The temptation to slide things that bother you under the rug can lead to tension and a bigger issue down the road. Things need to be brought to the light if there is any hope of resolution. It’s ok to take time and think before you speak. Don’t let yourself wait too long then too much time has passed.
3 – Relying solely on e-mails or texts
We live in a world of cell phones, tablets, laptops, watches and even glasses that you can send written, audio, and video messages on. With technology comes both good and bad. The good is that you can easily connect with more people from around the world. Think about your own high school years when likely cell phones and text messages were not the norm like they are today. We are in a different society now with different expectations. This can be applied to your professional life as well, think about your career over the years, today you can reconnect with former colleagues via LinkedIn almost instantly whereas before it was a challenge.
Technology keeps us together but there is A LOT of room for error in the written word. When you receive an email or text message you typically read it in your own voice with your own tone, and that’s not always the tone that the author intended it. While email and texting allow for faster and more thorough communication than ever before, make sure it is not your primary modes of communication in the office. Too much can be left for interpretation and there is something special and informative about a face to face or phone conversation.
4 – Assuming the other person thinks and listens like you do
The best teachers know that each person has their own learning style. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. Some people are visual learners and make charts, graphs, or draw something to understand it. Others are auditory learners and learn best when listening to a person, lecture or a recorded book. There are also verbal and physical learners, verbal learners prefer words, spoken and write. While physical learners prefer using their body and senses to learn.
There is no one way to learn or to listen since everyone is different. You’re not expected to figure out what is best for each person you talk to. Just realizing that they are different than you can be an advantage to better communication. If you continually find yourself having communication troubles with a specific person, ask them what works best for them! You’ll find that when you know how to talk to someone in a way that compliments their listening style life gets a whole lot easier for everyone.
5 – Blowing things out of proportion
We are all guilty of this. Call it a natural reaction, sometimes we can’t help it. Find ways to keep yourself in check. The best way to prevent a blow up is to stop and process. Give it time to sink in, play out your response and then react. You can also have reminders like a note on your desk, and alarm on your phone, or a friend that you ask to reach out and keep you accountable for your actions or in this case reactions. Figure out what works for you but just remember to keep your cool and keep perspective on the situation.
These are our top 5. Don’t wait to say something, don’t avoid saying anything at all, don’t rely solely on e-mails and text messages, don’t assume that the everyone listens the same way as you, and finally don’t blow things out of proportion.
We hope you found these 5 tips for avoiding communication pitfalls helpful. Start putting them into practice today and see the impact with your peers and even your boss. The biggest takeaway can simply be realizing that just because you said it doesn’t mean they understood it.
Successful communication takes work.