Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are You a Good Communicator?

In our high speed, multi-tasking world where many people feel the need to frequently check e-mails and texts even when having weekend dinner or drinks with a friend, one might think communication would be easier, more efficient and clearer.

In fact, because of the haste with which e-communications are often read and sent, concern that your message wasn’t received if you don’t receive a timely reply, or replies that have an off-putting tone, using cell phones and computers to communicate can be frustrating, confusing or waste time.

Common challenges:

--Not supplying requested or required information or non-responsive responses. Example: You need to know what color the sky is and your client/friend/co-worker says “yes.”

--Responding to part but not all of an e-communication. Example: You can’t record a script until the pronunciations of 3 words are confirmed, but for some reason the client only gives you 2.

--Too many e-communications sent to resolve a simple issue.

--E-groups discussions for committees needing to complete complex tasks go in circles.

--Someone higher up the food chain sends a detailed revision e-mail but could have saved both of you time by making the changes on the document.


--Take the time to read and respond carefully so you can be accurate, thorough and reduce follow up.

--Endeavor to be consistent in response times.

--If you don’t have the information, or if you’re part of a group and your opinion has been requested, don’t not respond. Either say when you plan to supply the information or let the group know you don’t care which decision is made.

--Use out of office auto-replies to let people know when you’re not available.

--If you need information/confirmation before you can move forward, consider providing a deadline: “If I don’t hear from you by X on Y issue, I’ll go ahead and do Z.”

--Pick up the phone instead of creating a long e-mail chain.

--Follow up phone calls in writing. People are often multi-tasking (driving, checking e-mails) when on the phone and may be distracted or just not remember all details agreed to during a call.

--Double check that a revision you want someone to make is really needed or correct. I’ve been asked to change things I know are accurate because someone assumed they weren’t.

--Say what you mean.

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