5 Things That Will Help Stop Poor Communication
I have a question for you to think about this week. How often have you had a conversation with a colleague, a staff member or perhaps even your partner where you left feeling sure they knew what to do, what you wanted, what was expected yet that's not how they felt?
Let me ask it another way, how often do you feel frustrated because something wasn't done that you felt was obvious, you'd chatted about it and they should just know what to do? For some it happens once in a while, for others it's a frequent occurrence, and it's really increasing their stress levels, not to mention those on the other end of that frustration and stress.
It's not unusual for this to happen, especially if you have had 'the chat' in your head before having it out loud. Don't get me wrong, it is important to practice hard conversations, especially when you don't like having them, but it can and does lead to some tricky situations.
Things tend to get missed that you feel are just obvious, but then perhaps they are only obvious to you because that's how your head works. Then because they are missed you get frustrated with the person who didn't quite meet your targets (the ones you never really shared). They, on the other hand, are left slightly dazed and confused by it all.
It's not unusual for people to believe that they have had the chat and are certain that they covered the points they needed to, and it was clear, but actually, most of it happened in your head and you actually didn't really explain things in a way that your audience needed either.
Well, we have some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is that it's all avoidable, the bad news, you are the problem, one that needs to change, but you only need to do a couple of things, here are 5 suggestions for you to think about:
1. Don't assume people know
A lot of the time these situations happen because people assume that everyone is clear on the expectations of their standards or exactly what actions should have been taken. This, then, is where we get to sneak in the old chestnut of Assume makes an Ass out of U & Me, but it's kind of true. If you don't clearly outline what the expectation is each time, then how will anyone know? Work on the rule of if it hasn't clearly come out your mouth it doesn't exist, and you won't go far wrong.
2. Use Plain English
Are you using jargon or management speak or regular plain English? Yes, I'm sure that you will sound very smart being able to rattle off the latest industry buzzwords or Three letter acronyms but guess what one works best? Right, plain English, forget the acronyms and buzzwords just talk it out like a normal human being and just talk to the other person as an equal who you actually want to pass information to.
3. Make Sure You Actually Say (Useful) Things!
Let's imagine that you are not trying to keep things secret and you do want the other person to succeed, in that case then you have to actually say out loud what you want from the other person. Don't have a discussion/argument in your head before the actual discussion. Yes, I know everyone says to practice the hard discussions and you should, but not in your own head, get a friend or college to be the 2nd voice so it has to come out your mouth. You need to also hear what you say, and they can tell you if it makes sense. If you are someone who gets stressed in a hard conversation, make bullet points and tick them off to make sure you cover things!
4. It's About The Facts
Firstly remember that they are only facts if you can prove them and people agree, otherwise they are opinions and your thoughts. Where you can stick to the facts all the time and before you leave the conversation, ask the other person to explain what the expectation or agreement is, if they can't you haven't communicated it correctly so take a breath and try again, slow down, ask more questions as you go, draw things out, give them notes to take away if need be but don't let them leave the conversation until you are both on the same level of understanding of the outcomes needed and if there is a particular way it must be done.
Everything is better with practice. Do lots of it, and with a range of people. Over-communicate and explain things again and again until people are either parroting back what you are saying or beg you to stop! The more you have clear conversations with people in a style that they enjoy the more successful you will be in getting the results that you need and the happier everyone will be.
The next time you find yourself shaking your head and muttering those immortal words, "but we talked about this!!" Just before your blood pressure sets of the alarms on your
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