One of the most frustrating and time consuming challenges for most companies, organizations, and individuals is communication. For many people, this thirteen letter word conjures up images of potential problems and difficulties. If you are a business owner, manager or employee, you know exactly what I am talking about. Day to day and moment to moment communication can be fraught with misunderstandings and mistakes.
If you are looking to hire an new employee, or you are an individual looking for a job or new career, you must make excellent communication a priority. The infamous Murphy’s Law states that, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” There are many people who believe that Murphy was an optimist. In other words, things much worse can and do happen to people every day. So when it comes avoiding miscommunication, there are some specific things you can do that will help you avoid doing it, and will save you the misfortune of experiencing it.
One way to avoid miscommunication is to be aware of, and stop using, slang words or phrases in your conversations or emails. Many times these words can be misunderstood or cause the listener to try and translate what you mean, and inevitably, he or she will miss the next few words or sentences of the conversation. If you are the listener, and the person you are having a conversation with, uses words you are not familiar with, politely ask the question, “How do you mean?” or “Could you be more specific?”
I can recall from some of my training programs that I facilitated, that there were participants who did not speak English as their primary language, and often would be confused when another participant would use slang words or phrases. Phrases like “Just let it all hang out,” or “He would be late for his own funeral,” might be amusing, but can also be confusing to some people.
Another way to avoid miscommunication is to slow down. Many times when you are in a hurry, you have a tendency to abbreviate your message and inadvertently leave something out. People will get the feeling you are rushed, and not take the time, or want to impose on you, their request to clarify what it is you are trying to communicate.
The final area where it is easy to miscommunicate, is regarding different types of behavior styles. One person’s particular behavior style can easily influence the conversation in a negative or a positive way. The key to avoiding miscommunication here is to be aware of your and the other person’s behavioral style and communicate appropriately.
By avoiding the use of slang words and phrases, slowing down your communication, and being aware of different behavioral styles, you will find your communication to be more effective and productive.