Human Resources

The Conundrum of Ineffective Communication

 

 

If I were more familiar with how the stock market worked, I would buy stock in key making because although it is said that communication is “key,” locksmiths all over should be running ‘round re keying, restoring, and replacing the faulty keys of ineffective communication.

In most settings, situations, and relationships, communication is the difference between function and failure.  It is my opinion that the absence or presence of effective communication is a top contributor to the end result.  Throughout my adulthood, weather a job seeker myself, an HR professional wearing my recruiter hat while seeking ideal candidates for a job or snooping around while at job fairs like “Snoop Jobby Job,” I’ve seen many job descriptions.  In almost every description I’ve ever seen regardless of the position level or type, there is a clearly stated requirement that translates to “please be sure that your ability to communicate effectively (whatever that means), is one of your core competencies.”

Although almost every employee in every job has likely signed their job description in confirmation, it hasn’t stopped me from wanting to pretend I am in a game of jeopardy so I can say, in a tone that is likely exasperated and confused “I’ll take, what is the definition of effective communication for $500 Alex!

If I am not alone in this, please comment on this post to share an on the spot definition of communication, ineffective communication, both, or to tell us a brief story that highlights either.

Communication will not ever be effective if either/any of the people involved thinks that keeping their thoughts to themselves in hopes that the sixth sense, psychic mind reading, common sense, “shoulda coulda woulda,” or other skills had by others, are existent or soo impressive that it cancels the actual need for an exchange of information.

During the verbal or written exchange of information that one might consider to be effective, it is necessary for the communicator to consider an endless number of factors in advance such as:

  • When communicating information that might produce emotion, maintaining a neutral tone and presenting fact-based information is best (easier said than done I know!).
  • When communicating information to a team of people that have an equal need to know/investment in the topic, communicating to all at once ensures that everyone receives the same information and at the same time.  When relevant, ask the group to respond to all as a way to keep all in the loop.
  • Upon conclusion of a face to face conversation, sending a follow up email to recap the details provides a point of reference, and covers an additional style which will be good for those who learn/retain best by reading. Inviting the recipients to ask clarification questions, or to add things that may have been missed, shows inclusivity.
  • Being mindful of the fact that no one knows everything about everything. Not even you!  Other people have meaningful insight as well so be open minded and willing to hear another point of view.  If you are known have one of these, check your ego, along with your coat, at the door.  It may be cold outside, but effective communication needs a warmth.
  • Remember that people new to a situation sometimes need to have things communicated in an “information for beginners” kind of style. In the case of a new employee, they are likely unlearning what they knew and learning a whole new set of tasks, people, physical space policies, procedures etc.  Try to remember how you felt when you were new and remember that it is your job to make sure new hires is well informed.  A checklist is helpful to make sure all necessary details are included.
  • Procedural change is best received when communicating happens and includes information that details the when, what, how, and why. Advance notice allows for digestion and any preparation before the effective date.
  • Tone, body language, and facial expressions speak louder than words. How many times have you asked someone “How are you today?” and get an “I’m good” response, even when their face is telling a completely different story.  They may be selling, but… I ain’t buying!
  • Know that effective communication requires intention, practice, and flexibility despite the fact that much of what we are told implies it to be natural and effortless.
  • Effective communication has two important parts: talking and active listening!

 

It is a known fact that the exchange of information is a necessary component to everything.  The ineffective communication conundrum will remain a topic of discussion, as long priority is not placed on ensuring that effective communication expectations and strategies are clear.  Don’t assume it to be common sense. After all, you know what they say about those who assume!

As the keys remain warped, the mind’s door of understanding will remain closed.  The sooner it is recognized that ineffective communication is the basis to many of the challenges that arise when people interact, the sooner education and corrective steps can be made.

 

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