Dan Heffernan

7 Tips to Ensure Smooth, Clear Communication

It shouldn’t take any of us much effort to come up with a list of communication issues that can lead to problems. We’ve all experienced them:

  • Lack of responsiveness to written communication (emails, texts, etc.)
  • Misunderstanding what the person said or wrote
  • Language barriers
  • Not proof-reading an email or text before sending
  • Not listening actively, i.e. being distracted when we should be listening
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Using a form of communication that can be misunderstood
  • And there are plenty more!

What is it about good communication that is so elusive?  

Here are 7 things I try to do to ensure smooth, clear communication:

  1. Respond quickly to emails. This lets the sender know you've seen the message. If you aren't ready to provide a formal response, let the sender know that. "Hi Madison, Thanks for the email. I will get back to you in a day or so."

  2. Repeat back. When you’re having an important exchange, repeat what you heard back to the person to be sure you’re both on the same page.

  3. Know your audience (avoid slang). When you're communicating with someone who doesn't share the same mother tongue as you it’s important to avoid colloquialisms they may not understand. Repeat what you’ve heard in this case especially.

  4. Be intentional. It is worth taking the extra time to re-read an email before you send it. A good email can move the reader to action or close a sale! And don't forget that every email needs to be able to be forwarded, and will have a very long shelf-life.

  5. Listen actively. When someone is speaking, be an active listener, not passive. Ask questions. Turn your mobile phone over so you don't see the screen. Look away from your laptop or tablet. Give them your full, undivided attention. It will show the speaker that you respect them. 

  6. Listen to the whole message. Listening to what the person is actually saying and not thinking about your response until the person is done speaking might keep you from jumping to conclusions before the speaker has even reached the point of what they’re trying to say. Related to this is not showing any negative reaction to what is being said until the person is finished. If you’ve ever experienced someone shaking their head while you’re suggesting an idea, it pretty much kills the inspiration. 

  7. Don’t be lazy! Move up a level in the form of your communication, especially when the message is important. Don't just text - send a longer, clearer email. Don't just send an email - call the person. Don't just call - do a video call (Skype, etc.) so you can see how they react to what you are saying. Don't just do a video call - go see them in person. Don't just go see in person - go share a meal or drink.

Give these a try and I think you'll see an immediate improvement in your communications with your colleagues, classmates, family members and friends!


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