Peter Jerkewitz, author of "Choose Not to Fail, 9 Really Smart Behaviors You Should Bring to Work Every Day," says common business problems that plague individuals, teams and corporations can be avoided.
What are some communication issues that bedevil every business?
First, people often don't get clear on what aspect of a topic they are communicating about. They don't ensure their audience is on the same page. Thus the audience (even of just one person) is thinking about one aspect of the issue or topic, while the communicator is talking about another. Secondly, we often don't communicate on behalf of the receiver. People communicate more what they know, rather than what the other party needs to know. The effect is that the receiver is overwhelmed with a lot of information they don't need, and they are left to sort through the avalanche and pull out the important parts. Generally they won't pick out the same points the sender really meant. Senders need to learn to focus, and receivers to actively participate in the conversation by helping bring this focus, even during an avalanche of information.
Describe some effective communication tactics.
The use of simple analogies • I've been using imagery and analogy to bring focus to communications naturally my entire career. Even when you're giving direct feedback, it allows the receiver to think of the story, understand it, then apply it.
Active listening • It's an old phrase, but it's a key approach to ensuring you've really heard what has been said. I don't mean simple parroting, but rather hearing a message, quickly internalizing it, and giving it back to the sender in a new form. It's best if you can do it within the context of the work you're doing.
Consider the receiver • Often times, communicators are sharing information that has an emotional impact on the receiver. When delivered wrong, it often causes the receiver to become distracted and focused on elements other than the message to which the sender is trying to bring focus. When you're delivering big news, you have to structure delivery. Consider how you would tell employees about an office move. You might casually say to a group that the company is changing locations, and go right into the business value and logistics, and why it's right for customers. But many of your team will be thinking about the impact on their commute or the loss of their cool office. When the sender is thoughtful, we can avoid many of these situations.
What are some other mistaken assumptions?
That all people can't communicate well. I concede that some people have more natural ability, and some more charisma. But anyone can be thoughtful in the way they communicate, which would most certainly lead to an improvement in their messages and ideas getting across to others. Another mistake is believing that when we all look at the same set of information, we'll draw the same conclusions. This will never actually happen. Often, people communicate data, and not analysis of that data. This is exactly opposite of what we should be doing. Tell the receiver your conclusions and findings, supported with data. Don't assume the receiver will draw the same "happy or sad" interpretation from in the information. Focus on conclusions and analysis of data, never toss out the information and assume it speaks for itself. It doesn't and never will.
Dawn House Peter Jerkewitz, author