There are a lot of surprising factors that can affect the quality of your communication. You might not think that these small mistakes are making you a poor communicator, but one or a combination of more than one of these little habits can get in the way of people understanding you. Here, we discuss what some of these may be. Knowing them will help you be more effective as a leader and team member.
1. Being Overly-polite
Some people think that being polite is an all-important part of speaking and negotiation skills, and while that’s true, it is possible to overdo it. Being overly-polite and indirect is one of the worst ways to communicate in a business. The truth is that the business environment can be extremely hectic, no matter the industry. You should write your emails, memos, and texts in a way that’s concise and to the point.
You should minimize the amount of time needed to get a point across. This might come off as rude to some people, especially when writing emails. But if your manager only has 2 minutes to scan your email, instead of filling the first paragraph with formalities, you are better off getting to the point first. Avoid lengthy asides and transitions (“on the other hand,” etc.) and keep your sentences short. People will appreciate you for saving their time and will pay full attention to you when you speak.
2. Being Vague and Non-Committal
In the same way that direct communication is important, being vague is a liability in the world of business. While sometimes you need to hedge your language to leave room for changes, vague or uncertain statements when discussing contracts and such results in leaving the people you talked to feeling uncertain themselves.
Use numbers, specific dates, and ranges in estimates, to be as accurate as possible. Leave out the fuzzy language: some, a lot, in the next month. This kind of non-specific language results in less urgency and clear planning- everyone assumes the exact meaning of everything, which leaves room for misunderstanding and misalignment.
3. Not following up
Whether you are a manager talking to your employees, or are an employee talking to your superior, always remember to follow up. Following up means taking the time to send emails, and can even include asking questions immediately following a conversation. If you don’t understand something, make sure to seek an explanation.
Google has built-in follow-ups now from your inbox, but being generally in the habit of following up on requests, and project statuses will go a long way. Going into the Kanban method will also help you keep track of your projects, especially if your team is juggling several.
4. Using the wrong medium of communication
It is also important to keep in mind that even with the correct messaging, using an inappropriate channel of communication can still have detrimental effects. You need to use the right methods and tailor your communication channel to the recipient.
Use text or messaging apps to send urgent messages out to people out in the field. Similarly, knocking someone on Slack can be a timelier way to reach them than over email. What this requires is that you first establish clear lines of communication for your team. Knowing which comms channel to use in which situations will considerably boost the response time.
These are just a few issues that can affect your communication skills. Better business communication is a work in progress. You need to work on it constantly in order to become a better and more effective communicator.
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