Are you sabotaging your communication?
We are bombarded with communications constantly – email, text, phone, social – just to name a few. But just because you are communicating, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it well.
At the core of every great relationship is great communication. The same is true of great teams. Effective communication is necessary for every level within a team to work together cohesively, engage employees, and create loyal customers.
The Society for Human Resource Management surveyed 400 companies with 100,000 employees each and found that companies lost an average of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication with and among employees.
Here are six mistakes that sabotage great communication:
1. Overcomplicating things to make yourself look “smart”
There is a common fear that you will be “found out”—that if you can’t answer a question or if you look unsure people will question whether you should be in your role.
One of the ways this can manifest is by speaking like you’re regurgitating a textbook. The trouble is that complexity can hide a lack of clarity. While it may give the impression that you are in control of a situation, overcomplicating things cause confusion among listeners. And where there is confusion, people tend to fill in the gaps with rumors.
Become aware of whether you are doing this subconsciously. Ask yourself whether you’re deliberately overcompensating—and overcomplicating—because you feel insecure.
CommWest Tidbit – You know your job and your industry, but that doesn’t apply to everyone. Your coworkers may not know the same terminology or use the same acronyms as you. Your customers don’t know what you know – that is why they hire you. This is why we train our team to not use ‘tech speak’.
2. Communicating without a clear structure
If you’re unstructured in your communication, your main points will be lost on the audience. That includes contacting your partners with requests, addressing customer questions, or pitching your services to a new client. Work backward from the main takeaways that you want your audience to have and build your communication around those points. Use simple words and short sentences that leave little room for ambiguity.
If you don’t know something, be transparent about that and be clear on both the knowns and the unknowns so there is no room for doubt.
CommWest Tidbit – Keep it short and sweet. No one has time for ‘fluff’, we are too busy helping our customers, doing our jobs, and running our businesses.
3. Assuming that saying something once is enough
Saying something once is not enough, no matter what the message is.The more important the communication, the more important it is to repeat it regularly so that it becomes integrated. For instance, “the Rule of 7” in marketing psychology suggests that consumers need to hear a message seven times before acting upon the message.
CommWest Tidbit – On the flip side, there is such a thing as overcommunicating. Also, consider how you are delivering your message. There may be times a phone call is better suited to the message and others when an email is more suitable. For example, an email can be saved, forwarded, and referenced at a later date.
4. Not taking responsibility for how a message is understood
The conservation doesn’t stop once the email is sent. There is the responsibility to make sure that the audience understands the message. Have you in your own communication found that there is often a gap between what is said and what is heard?
While people may nod and say they understand, it pays to clarify exactly what someone has understood from the message that you have conveyed.
CommWest Tidbit – Train your team and refine your skills to use active listening to improve your communication. Be attentive, ask open-ended questions, request clarification, paraphrase, use open body language, show empathy, and summarize.
5. Communicating only one way
Different people learn in different ways, and great communication needs to reflect that. Some learn best through listening, some through reading, some through doing, and some through face-to-face interaction with others.Communicating a message through multiple channels increases the chance of the message landing.
CommWest Tidbit – Know your audience. That means getting to know your team, your customers, and your vendors. This builds the relationship and ultimately contributes to your customer experience. This is why we are proud to be local, meaning we come onsite to meet with you and your business.
6. Not showing empathy
This is especially important when delivering a message that is controversial or difficult. Communicating in a robotic way is likely to have an adverse impact and disconnect you from your audience. The easiest way to structure such a communication is to reflect on some questions first:
- How would I feel if I were on the other side listening to this communication?
- What would I want to hear?
- What actions would I want to be taken?
CommWest Tidbit – Care about people and their needs! Deliver your message in a way that acknowledges its impact on the audience. In turn, they will recognize when the speaker shows a level of care toward them. This, in turn, makes them more likely to really hear what’s being said and to feel more positive toward the person who’s saying it.