How Do We Communicate Better?
As I’ve realised, communication is pretty critical to getting through work without many battle wounds.
Now more than ever, communication needs to be clear, concise and understood for us to get to where we want to. As we all migrate to working from home, it’s pretty difficult to get you point across with facial gestures. Raising your eyebrows at the dog isn’t going to help Sandra realise that you’re surprised at the news because Sandra can’t see you. Actually come to think of it, people not being able to see your facial gestures has its benefits. Anyway, the point is, most of us will be communicating over the phone more than ever, I personally have never had so many conference calls… and we all know how seamless conference calls are. So how do we communicate effectively and make sure people get exactly what we are talking about?
Set expectations. It’s properly boring but I love this kind of thing. Making sure that everyone knows what we are talking about, what we are trying to achieve and why we are having this conversation is important. It’s important because it allows people to mentally prepare before the call, they might actually think they need to do some prep before hand and have questions ready (which in the long run saves no end of time). And secondly it means that people don’t waste mental energy thinking throughout the call “what is this about?” “what are we trying to achieve?” “does anyone have a clue what the point of this is?” The time they spend thinking of that stuff is the time they are not thinking about the stuff you are talking about. Which in turn means there will be wasted time.
Empathise. So the deal is that everyone isn’t as clued up about a subject as you are (you superstar, you). If it’s your project or your piece of work, chances are that you are the most clued up on it. Which might lead you to talk about it in a way that alienates people. You need to pitch things at the right level to be able to communicate effectively. You should be pitching your content at the person that is least knowledgable, so you can be sure that everyone in the room knows what’s going on. That way you know that everyone understands what’s going on and no-one is sat there thinking “what on Earth is everyone talking about?”
Jargon alienates people — it’s only a shortcut if everyone knows what it means.
Ask questions. One of the things I think that needs be made clear is that people are understanding what’s being said. It’s super basic but if someone doesn’t really get what you’re saying, you may as well not be talking. So to ensure that people are getting it, ask the question “is everyone okay with this so far, is it making sense?” That is an opportunity for anyone who doesn’t understand to speak up and if someone says after that they didn’t understand you can say “Well Frank, you said you understood in the meeting, what’s changed?”.
Keep it short. We all have so much brain power for our day. If you spend a year explaining something, it’s probably a sign that you don’t understand it and that you need to go away and look at how you can make it simpler. There is a real art to keeping things short and sweet. There is this weird assumption we all have, in that, if it’s simple it’s too easy. But actually research is shown that if something is easy to understand and simple, people are more likely to believe it. Look at Apple, it’s very simple and clear what they sell — and they sell a lot of it.
In short, the basics are the best. Set expectations, make sure people understand as you go through, bin the jargon and keep it simple.
Originally published at https://www.careerhealth.info on March 26, 2020.