Failure To Communicate

More than once in my life, I’ve found myself in a situation that was caused by a failure to communicate well. When most people (or companies) think about communication, they only think about using words to tell a message.

failure_to_communicate_memeThat’s usually the first part of the communication problem. Next, most people error in thinking only about WIIFM (what’s in it for me) — not, what’s important (or “what’s in it) for the other person.

Think about your own life and remember a time when a problem, error or disagreement occurred because both parties interpreted a communication differently. It can be as simple as a disagreement or mix-up between spouses over groceries or a night out. It can be as big as a company giving the wrong message to employees or a sales person losing a large opportunity. Even worse, world leaders giving a message that is not well received by another country.

So, how do we prevent Failure To Communicate problems?

  1. Slow down. Before you deliver a message, write it down and read it aloud.
  2. When crafting your message, think of the other person and how your message will affect him or her. Instead of a company telling its employees, “We are cutting lunch time from 1 hour to 30 minutes — the end.”, they should consider a better message, such as, “As many of our team members know, we’ve been fortunate to experience a rise in business. To assist in fulfilling these orders without asking more time of our employees, we are asking everyone to take a shorter lunch break. This change is expected to be in affect for the next 3 months. While it is a trade off, the benefit in the long run will be increased sales and more opportunities for our team members. Thank you for supporting our company and this decision.”.
  3. Consider using a story. Adults are more likely  to remember a message if it’s tied with a memorable story or event.
  4. Make sure the other person received your message and give him or her the opportunity to respond or ask questions. For example, afterwards, ask, “Did I communicate that well? Do you have any questions?”.
  5. Follow-up. Everyone is busy and has a full plate of tasks and activities. Make sure to follow-up with reminders, even for those small things, like a quick text message, “Hey, honey. I’m heading to the grocery store. Was there anything else you needed?”.

Communication is always extremely important and often fails. By taking a few extra steps, you can ensure a more effective delivery of your message and avoid potential problems, lost sales or hurt feelings.



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