To write that communication is key to any successful relationship, whether at work or in personal life, almost goes without saying. Except, being a master of communication means never assuming that anything “goes without saying”!
At Pacesetter, we take communication so seriously that “Becoming a Communication Master” is part of our Pacesetter Way, a list of fundamental behaviors that guide our associates. We believe that the best way to communicate effectively is to say (and write) what you mean, clearly, and to make sure that you are speaking for yourself, not others.
How? Here are three tips that will help you avoid communication pitfalls.
Communicate clearly, using exact language about deadlines and expectations.
In the Pacesetter Way we describe this as, “Say what you mean by being clear with direct requests.” Doing this is easy if you think like a newspaper reporter and cover the five Ws: who; what; why; when; where. So, instead of asking for a draft of the presentation “sometime soon,” ask for a solid draft that includes all ten discussed slides in Power Point, with suggested graphics, by noon on Thursday. That way there is less chance for a miscommunication to happen.
If you need to communicate detailed requirements with a related timeline, everyone will appreciate that you reduced it to writing in a document they can refer back to later. Even if you hold a meeting, a handout reduces the chance of the requirements being understood differently than intended.
Start conversations with the most important point.
Lead with the main point of your communication. Don’t make your audience search for the piece of information you considered the most important.
Also don’t detract from the main point by using terms or acronyms with which everyone may not be familiar. Your audience will appreciate any acronyms being defined the first time they are used.
Choose your medium based on your audience’s preference, not yours.
If the needed communication is “one-on-one,” remember that some people remember conversations better while others prefer something visual like an email. If you meet someone for the first time, don’t hesitate to ask them their preferred mode of communication. You may prefer email, but if you adapt to their preference of a phone call or a visit you will be perceived as a good communicator and position yourself for more successful exchanges.
So let’s summarize (also a good idea!). Always be clear and direct, lead with your most important point, and, if you want to take your communication skills to the next level, adapt to your audience’s preferred style. Take advantage of these three tips today and start mastering good communication!