Effective communication is required for a business to operate smoothly but capable, efficient communication is challenging! It requires that you understand what you want to say and pay close attention to how you say it, when you say it and what channel/medium you choose for the message. Verbal and non-verbal communication missteps may result in public relations difficulties and unhappy employees. To ensure good workplace communication (internal and external), check out the most common mistakes made and how to avoid them.
- Not editing and/or having a second look: Take a thorough look at all outbound communication (email, memo, text message, report, blog post, business letter, proposal, contract, job description, manual, bulletin, advertisement, brochure, news release, etc.) before sending it. This reduces errors and/or miscommunication.
- Not thinking before you speak: Before a presentation, group meeting, performance appraisal, training session, one-on-one discussion, disciplinary session, sales pitch and/or consulting engagement, plan what to say and how to say it. Be aware of your verbal and non-verbal cues.
- Rushing to conclusions: Communication becomes muddied by emotions and expectations. Before you react to any form of communication (verbal and/or written) seek clarity. Ask questions. Choose to respond rather than react.
- Not understanding your audience: How and when to communicate is affected by the audience you are connecting with. Are you addressing management, the board of directors, the data input crew, the HR department or the advertising division? Each group requires a slightly different approach. Consider all personal and non-personal factors that affect the audience you are speaking/writing to.
- Assuming: Rather than assuming what was intended by a written or verbal communication, ask for clarity. If possible and/or necessary, arrange a one-on-one meeting to gain a better understanding of what was stated.
- Utilizing only traditional communications hierarchies: Trickling information from top management to the front-line staff can result in slow distribution, lost information and/or misplaced data. Consider alternative methods of disseminating messages.
- Lack of clear goals/objectives: If you’re unsure what and why you are communicating, it’s difficult to get your message across. Determine your goals/objectives before communicating verbally or in written form.
- Failing to establish an internal communication strategy: Internal communication is generally meant to keep all employees up-to-date on organizational developments, events and company values. Without a strategy, this communication becomes irregular, erratic, unpredictable and poorly planned, reducing employee engagement. Aim to deliver a consistent pace of messaging to sustain regular contact with your employees.
- Information overload: Constant information bombardment is counterproductive. Too much content, too long of communication and too complex of information make it difficult to be absorbed. Select your communication channels carefully. To avoid overwhelming employees, send information to only those that really need it.
- Use of jargon: Too much jargon (words/expressions characteristic of a special activity/group/profession that are difficult for others to understand) renders communication incomprehensible. Write and speak clearly and concisely.
- Not asking for feedback: It’s important to send the right message. It’s equally important to know if the message is understood by your audience. Make it simple for employees to raise concerns, ask questions, share ideas and express opinions. Know how to gather and use this feedback. This helps you identify difficulties/issues and propel your business forward.
- Not repeating your message: Repetition in communication involves using more than one channel (in-person, documents, email, instant messaging, video conferences, phone calls, social media, etc.) to keep the information flowing and maximize understanding and engagement.
- Using only outdated technology: While memos, paper newsletters and emails are useful, cutting through the noise and reaching your staff requires targeted communications through digital solutions. Consider an internal communication app (ClickUp, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, etc.). You’ll find it easier to communicate effectively with employees/teams.
- Not being proactive: Don’t let staff hear whispers before communicating information clearly with them. You risk losing control of messaging and resorting to reactions and explanations. Instead, be proactive and disseminate information quickly and thoroughly.
- Not being truthful: Lying, covering up and/or withholding information causes problems. Be open, transparent and accountable with your communications. You’ll preserve the trust of your employees.
- Lack of consistency: If information coming from different sources (management, the board, supervisors, HR department, etc.) is contradictory/inconsistent, confusion ensues. Make sure your messages are unified and consistent.
- Overcomplicating: Confusing, complicated messages cause miscommunication. Convey your messages succinctly, cutting extraneous content and focusing on salient points. Clarity is essential if you want everyone on the same page. Precision and simplicity save time, improve response rates and increase the chances that the information will be absorbed.
- Not employing Customer Communication Management systems: CCMs (Help Scout, HoneyBook, Zendesk, Moxo, etc.) eliminate inefficiencies, mistakes and unnecessary costs. They reduce human error while allowing for personalized communication with customers/clients.
Workplace communication mistakes can be avoided. Correspondence/conversation can be smooth and unhindered. Reduce your use of jargon. Never assume your message is understood. Be open to feedback from recipients. Consider implementing internal communication apps and customer communication management systems. Take the time to understand your audience and create a communication strategy. Ensure good workplace communication (internal and external) by becoming aware of the most common mistakes made and how to avoid them.
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