I didn't say that... Yes, you did.Better Communication. Every time, in any organizational meeting where we brainstorm how we can improve, "Better Communication" is always on that list. More often than not, it's at the top. Why? Because when people communicate effectively, everyone understands their role better. If my manager can effectively communicate the vision of the company and his superiors to me, and from me accurately communicate my concerns, strengths, weaknesses, etc. up to his management, we all win.
Better communication isn't just the Holy Grail of organizations, however. As an individual, the ability to communicate is tantamount to a great sauce; everything just works better. Without further ado, here are a couple tips I've learned:
- Say Less
- Be Nice
- Do It!
- Bonus #4
Don't put stupid stuff in emails. I know you think it's funny, but when your joke goes askew and you put your follies down in written format, you'll regret it. Sure, levity is great, but stupid is still stupid.
Before I send out an email, even brief ones that don't (theoretically) hold any importance, I reread through and remove words and phrases that don't add meaning to the email. Sometimes this is time consuming, but as I've done it for years I've gotten better and have to do less and less revisioning. For any communication, but email especially, you want to say all that you have to in order to convey meaning, but no more than what is required. For example:
I think that we would probably get the quote to her by tomorrow. We just need to make sure that there's not a large delay that puts us behind once we purchase it.
We should have the quote by tomorrow, but we'll need to insure there's no delay after we purchase.
Trimming the fat on our words accomplishes two goals. First, it clarifies our meaning to the reader. Second, it shows that we value the reader's time. Both of which the reader will appreciate.
We all know the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." However, knowing a rule and following a rule are two entirely different items. Just as we were told, "If it's not true, kind, or necessary, don't say it", we need to be kind in our communication. First, never reply when emotional. Whether the emotion is anger, hurt, embarrassment, etc., let the emotion run its course, then reply. You will get plenty of chances to follow this rule, but it only takes breaking it one time to cause permanent consequences. Second, be courteous. If you are asking for something, acknowledge the help you are being given. If you are asking for something big, make the acknowledgement big, and be free with offers to return the favor. Lastly, give thanks and appreciation for help given. If you can do a quick thank you in person, all the better, but even an email saying thanks is better than no acknowledgement.
The easiest way to communicate better is to communicate more. Manager X asks you to provide Item B, but Priority Q trumped it and made it late? Tell Manager X. Someone sends an email to twenty people on a problem, and you jump on it? Let everyone know you're working on it. The players in a project can only play well when they know what's happening, and the more you communicate, the more they know what's happening. I have turned around an entire department's view of my team by doing nothing more than focusing on communication.