How to Avoid Communication Backfires
By Sandy Schroeder
Have you ever talked with someone and then wondered if they heard anything you said? They may not have. We live in a fast-spinning world that seldom pauses to get the straight story. In the process, we may be misunderstood, frustrated or thwarted when we talk to our friends, family and co-workers. Simple messages take on a life of their own and can create havoc.
See If This Sounds Familiar
- Remarks that are friendly are seen as hostile
- Casual comments get twisted around and create bigger problems
- Facial expressions contradict what you are saying and contradict your remarks
- Impulsive remarks needlessly offend others
It's not surprising that there are misunderstandings. Most of us receive over a hundred emails a day and it takes more than 20 minutes for people to regain their focus when they are distracted.
Communication experts tell us what's needed to make our messages work.
- Accuracy and completeness
- Verifiable facts
- Polite consideration
- Brief direct messages
Overall Guide for Effectiveness
- Know why you are communicating with and keep your comments focused to make your point.
- Deal with emotions in person so they do not go astray and you can see their effect
- Deal with facts in emails and proof what you are sending
- Listen as much as you talk
- Avoid rambling, as you keep messages simple
- Watch others who are good communicators.
Reasons Communications Misfire
Here are some things to watch for.
Don't overexplain - Sometimes when we are really trying to make a point we say too much and lose our audience in the process. All of the extra words can cloud the issue instead of convincing the listener.
You may not recognize differences - Don't assume everyone is like you. Some people want to hear every detail. Others want things quickly summarized so they ca move on. Try to read the other person to see if they are bored, eager, or just not interested and tailor your responses.
Keep it real - In an effort to connect, it's tempting to try to be funny, quote other people's remarks, or try to be an authority when you are not. Instead, be yourself. Be direct and honest. The other person will read the difference and appreciate your honesty.
Stay organized - Approach each discussion with the same thoroughness. Know what you want to say and why and take the time to be prepared.
Whenever and wherever you are communicating, take the time to do it right, or wait until you are prepared.
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