It seems as though in this modern era, with the multitude of technology that is available, we have forgotten the importance of communication. Clear and consistent communication is essential to maintaining any strong business, department or relationship. But as a millennial myself, I have not only witnessed this, but am at fault of having terrible communication at times.
For example, I HATE talking on the phone. Yes, I know as a journalist this might seem ridiculous, but given the choice, I would rather send a text than talk on the phone hands down. It is easier, quicker, less awkward, confrontational — the list goes on and on. However, sometimes I think we tend to get lazy with our communication, even during times when putting a little extra effort might be important.
We might choose to send an email to a co-worker about an issue, rather than picking up the phone or stopping by their office for a quick conversation. We might assume a new employee knows how to do something, rather than taking the time to thoroughly explain our expectations and procedures. Having clear communication is essential to the success of your department and the strength of your team.
Here are a few simple tips for ways you can work to improve your communication among staff.
- Be a good listener — In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie explains the secret to becoming a great conversationalist. The key is to let others talk about themselves. When someone comes to you with a problem, question or simply just to chat, make sure to listen. Don’t cut them off or interject with a solution. Just listen. “Remember that the people you are taking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems,” said Carnegie. “A person’s toothache means more to that person that a famine in China which kills a million people. A boil on one’s neck interests one more than forty earthquakes in Africa. Think of that the next time you start of conversation.”
- Smile and Maintain Eye Contact — A key to becoming a good listener is being engaged. This can be done through maintaining eye contact and smiling to let the other person know you are truly interested in what they are saying. Yes, this might seem like common sense, but in today’s world with all of its distractions, it is so easy to glance at your phone to check your email during a conversation, a perfect sign that you are not really interested in the conversation.
- Paraphrase and Ask Questions — At the end of each important conversation or meeting, make sure to summarize the main points or takeaways. Or ask one or two follow-up questions in order to make sure everyone in on the same page.
- Set a Response Deadline — With all the various methods of communication, sometimes things can get a little overwhelming. You might go into a meeting or take a day off only to come back and find out you have 10 text messages, three misses call and 50 emails. Setting response deadlines can be helpful. For example, you always respond to a text message within 30 minutes, a missed call within an hour and emailed within 24 hours. That way people always hear back from you in a timely manner and you don’t have a huge backlog of messages.