Each of us wants to believe we are successful communicators. Truth be told, though, when things don’t work out as we expected we want to blame the other guy. If only they had listened, if only they did what I told them, if only someone would accept responsibility and be accountable. “if only…” becomes your theme song. Every day you revisit the same issues and spend time handling or fixing matters that exist only because of poor communication. You see this and probably even agree with me, but keep coming back to the same song: It’s about them, not you.
What if you could eliminate all barriers to communication and conversations were productive, outcomes were what you expected and you were actually having fun? Trust me when I say this: If you have barriers to communication it will impact your bottom line. Think about the last 3 months. How often were there redos or was a customer upset because of communication issues? How many meetings or phone calls to go over the same topic that had been discussed previously but the results weren’t as expected? The list goes on, and each minute you spend fixing problems due to communication challenges means you aren’t spending time on strategic thinking, business development and other areas to move your company forward.
Are there factors that are actual barriers to communication and prevent us getting the results we want and expected? Absolutely! The main factor is that the message isn’t clear. Many things can impact the clarity of the message. For instance, the words you use can change how a message is interpreted. “The customer would like to have the quote by the end of the week” means something different than “This quote has to be to the customer by the end of the week.” Small difference, I know, but assuming that someone thinks that ‘would like’ and ‘has to have’ are the same is likely to mean disappointment or frustration on everyone’s part.
The method used to deliver the message will also affect how the message is interpreted. Email has become the communication vehicle of choice for most business people. One of my clients told me that email is for information, the phone or face-to-face is for communication. In emails we are quick and to the point (or so we think). However, words and meaning can be misunderstood. We don’t even know for sure if the email was received.
The most significant barrier to communication is clarity of the message. But consider this, just because you speak it or write it does not mean the message was clear or understood. If you want your company to grow and flourish, if you want to have people accountable, if you want to have communication become a tool to revolutionize your company, then you must first take responsibility for your part of what goes wrong. It isn’t all about them.
© 2014 Incedo Group, LLC