I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” –Robert McCloskey
Effective communication is an essential skill for anyone in business. I am always amazed when I receive emails with requests that are not clearly defined and somehow I feel like the idiot when I am asking for clarification.
I read the message over and over and over, but sometimes I just have no clue what the writer is asking. I know they did not intentionally provide confusing information. However some people make the assumption when they are communicating that you are completely in tune with their thought process.
People in technology are the worst in this category. Somehow there is the assumption that the audience for their message is as fluent about the subject as they are. If they were, then why would you provide any information at all? Typical tutorials in the tech sector follow this pattern.
- Step A – Start
- Step B through X glossed over because they assume you know this already
- Step Y – Our amazing new step
- Step Z – Confusion
How to be an effective communicator
First and foremost, read. Read a lot. Nothing improves your communication skills more than getting a better understanding of our language. Fortunately for us, many authors are excellent at communicating thoughts, moods, feelings and environments. The second hand benefit of this is that you absorb some of these skills as well.
Secondly, read what you type. We have all done this. You type an email to someone and then realize later that your message reads like a 3 year old trying to grasp basic language skills. Before you hit that send button, take a break. Walk away from the email and come back and read it. I am certain there are very few emails that are so essential they could not wait another few minutes before sending.
Do you talk or text?
My wife and I argue about this all the time. I hate talking on the phone. I am much happier sending a brief text message that communicates everything I need to say.
Keeping with that motto, that is the end of this blog post.