In the last two days, several of my clients have experienced the havoc created with miscommunication or just the lack of crystal clear communication. And, this is to say nothing about the fact that 80%+ of potential clients talk about symptoms of this same issue. Why is it so hard?
As a former VP of Operations and Supply Chain, I can attest to the fact that consistent, clear communication is actually much harder than it sounds like it should be! It boils down to a few simple facts: 1) Things change (and we all have our own perceptions). 2) The game of telephone — perhaps I'm getting older but we used to play the game of telephone at my childhood parties. You'd tell the person on your right something, and then they'd tell the next person and so on. By the time the message got to the last person, it was garbled. How often does that happen at our jobs? ALL THE TIME!
One tip to implement this week:
So, what can we do this week to improve upon the clarity of our communication? Quite a lot. Start by not assuming what we've said is clear to the recipient. I cannot tell you how many times a client has complained about a topic, and after digging further and asking questions, everyone was on a different page, even though each person thought he/she communicated the next step.
So, how can we be clearer? Ask for the other party to confirm what you've said. Or summarize what you think you've agreed upon in different words. Often one of these two approaches will resolve any miscommunication. You could also summarize the plan in an email; however, it is much better to follow one of the first two options and re-confirm with the email. Don't make the email lengthy. A few bullet points to confirm key actions/agreements will suffice.