Communication is extremely difficult, yet important skill to master. Lately I’ve had couple of instances of miscommunications, or lack of it and things didn’t go too well. I’m writing this to remind me of the rules of effective communication.
Rule 1: Skip the small talk
Effective communication does not need small talk. If you want to talk about weather, your favorite foods, your pets, how everyone is having cold lately, how tired you are, or anything equally useless and trivial, do it on a lunch, cafe, dinner or drinks. While this might sound bit military-like thing to say, this does not belong to places where you’re supposed to get things done.
If you communicate remotely, make sure that every now and then there are situations to do the small talk with your co-workers or the people you are communicating. But everyday?
Rule 2: You might not need to say it at all
Before you open your mouth, take a deep breath and a second to think if you really need to say it out loud. When you do that for example in a room with many people working, you will disturb everyone. People get intrigued by other people’s voices.
Every time you feel the urge to ask, complain or say something out loud, try to spend at least 5-15 minutes to figure out that by yourself. That not only makes you better person but also more skillful of figuring things out on your own.
Rule 3: Leave the trail
In most cases, written > spoken communication. When you say something in written communication, whether by chat, mail, sms or an app, you leave a trail behind for the other person to confirm it afterwards. With spoken communication, the other person is left wondering what was said and what had to be done.
Sure, there are times when it’s best to speak out loud, especially when you need to get something done urgently, or when you are not sure about approach to take, it is useful to sit down and talk about it openly.
Rule 4: Make the thing is easy to digest
A person who is good written communicator, is usually good spoken communicator also. This is because written communication helps you to structure the material in a way that it’s easy to digest.
With spoken communication you can repeat same thing five times with do hand gestures and kind of get the thing explained without saying a word.
So, whenever you need to say something, consider who are you going to say it shape your message into something that is easy to digest. If you write it down before opening your mouth, your message will be much more clearer.
Rule 5: Acknowledge fast and clear
Lately I was supposed to meet a person and I suggested a time and the place to meet, but I never got the final acknowledgement. On the given day I sent a message asking if it was going to happen or not, and didn’t get a reply to that either.
So, I didn’t go to the place at the time. The other person however had been there waiting for me. I later discovered that she had replied to me from another address and the acknowledgement messages went to spam.
So who was to blame? I think both parties – me for not having checked spam for acknowledgement – and she for not having felt odd that I hadn’t answered to her mail with my phone number.
On the other hand, on working environment, when you send a request for someone to do something, and never get acknowledgement back, you will grow frustrated. Maybe that person has done it quietly, or not. And you never know when or if it gets done.
So, acknowledge, acknowledge fast, and if it was request to get something done, always inform back at the time it is done.