The Importance of Effective Communication
Communication can be tough. There are countless styles and approaches to communicating; and in today’s technology-driven world, many interactions take place over different mediums, ranging from face-to-face in person, to email, to instant messenger, to conference call, to text message, to Skype…and the list goes on and on.
While there are obvious benefits with the technological conveniences of today, it can be easy for the context of the conversation to get lost, and challenging to get people to understand what you are trying to say, or even to understand what they are trying to say.
Whether interacting with colleagues, family, friends, or someone you meet in passing, communication is at the core our relationships, and there can be numerous ways to communicate. For example, some people are direct, whereas others avoid confrontation; some are vague and struggle to provide a clear idea of what they are trying to say, and some people are a mixture of these traits.
Given the different approaches and styles to interacting with people, here are some tips to communicate effectively:
Be Direct and Honest
According to The Economic Times, honest and direct communication is the best approach, and will help to build stronger, more harmonious relations. While it can be human nature to want to avoid conflict, it can ultimately cause tension. Consistently providing open and honest communication leads to healthy conversations, trusting relationships and stronger collaboration.
Keep Meetings Productive and Valuable
Group discussions can be valuable and a great resource for collaboration; however, they can quickly run off-course. Therefore, it’s essential to productivity to keep participants focused and on-track so they understand their role and action items. CyberAlert discusses the value of circulating an agenda for all meetings to keep attendees focused on the subject at hand. Additionally, if someone is getting off-topic, it is best to redirect the conversation back to the agenda to keep meetings on track.
Set Defined Results
When meeting with individuals, it is important to set clear directives about what you hope to achieve in the discussion, so participants know their roles and come prepared. Additionally, The Next Web recently posted about the benefits of assigning action items and owners to provide clear expectations for next steps once the meeting is over, as well as creating accountability for those responsible for tasks.
Be Mindful of Email Content
When sending emails, be clear about the purpose of the email and aim to keep the length to a few paragraphs (or less) whenever possible. Earlier this year, The Huffington Post published tips around email etiquette within the office, noting the importance of re-reading a message prior to sending to ensure spelling is correct and removing any slang words. Additionally, with the amount of emails colleagues receive each day, it is important to keep any correspondence around a specific topic on the same email string when responding, rather than starting a new thread.
Communication will always be an essential part of our interactions with others. The more we approach interactions with an understanding of our goals, and clear communication, the smoother it seems to go.