Miscommunication is a common occurrence at work; it is usually a result of the different ways people relay and perceive information. This can lead to personal conflicts, missed deadlines, uncoordinated meetings and a generally challenging work environment – unnecessary obstacles that can be avoided.
Speaking effectively and listening actively is key to avoiding miscommunication. How do we go about doing this? Here, we share four simple steps to help improve communication between you and your colleagues or superiors.
When conveying information, go straight to the point. State exactly what you need and expect, and refrain from including irrelevant details or examples that will only confuse your listener. For added clarity, it will help to minimise external distractions by choosing to meet at a quiet location. If you can, avoid checking messages on your phone or computer while speaking. The best way to avoid miscommunication is to be focused on getting your point across and giving your audience full attention.
It is important that your message is heard and perceived correctly by your audience. While some people prefer being loaded with every detail, others only want the specific agenda and respective deadlines. Some prefer speaking face-to-face, and others just want to receive emails and instructions in writing. Using this knowledge of others and their preferred communication style will enable you to effectively get your point across to each individual.
Likewise, be aware of your own preferred style of communication – whether it be speaking to others in person or via email. Understand how your tone, body language and word choice impacts the message you are sending across in order to avoid misunderstandings.
Sending emails and texts may be quick and convenient methods of communicating, especially in the office where coordinating with different groups of people can be a hassle. However, when communication lacks emotions and body language, words can be easily misread and misinterpreted. When questions arise, it helps to speak directly to your audience for clarification. Strike a balance between face-to-face communication and sending emails to maximise your time in the office.
Communication is not only about speaking and sending a message across, it also involves listening in order for vital information to be absorbed, even in written communication. When you listen, do not assume to understand what the speaker is talking about. Instead, pay close attention, take notes and clarify any doubts by asking questions – effective listening is never passive.
It is important to identify the various sources of miscommunication at work and apply these tips to improve the situation. Putting in the effort to communicate clearly and listen actively goes a long way in avoiding miscommunication and creating a more cohesive environment.
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