How well do you communicate with your executive team and with employees in your company? If the honest answer is, “Just OK,” there may be some communications barriers causing a disconnect between your messages and the ways in which others understand them.
The good news is, most communications barriers are fairly easy to identify. And with a little tweaking in your approach, these barriers can be overcome and you can usher in a new era of clear communications throughout your organization.
Here’s a look at some of the most prevalent hurdles and how to deal with them:
Use of jargon or “insider” language. Effective communications start with knowing your audience. You’re an expert in your industry and the use of related jargon or insider language is second-nature for you. But that doesn’t necessarily hold true for the different audiences you address (customers, employees, investors, vendors, etc.). When composing a message, eliminate any jargon or abbreviations that serve as short-hand in informal conversations, but have no place in communications intended for a larger audience.
Too much information. Some business leaders err on the side of excess when it comes to communicating with their various teams. It’s understandable—you want to ensure that people understand the complexities of a business situation and the best way to achieve this goal is by providing a vast amount of information.
Generally speaking, most people can’t absorb a full-scale “information dump.” Effective communicators understand the value in condensing their message, identifying key points and working to make sure people get the idea without feeling overloaded with data. Offer bullet-points and other concise ways to get your message across.
Too many distractions. We’re all guilty of trying to do too many things at once. If the environment in which you seek to communicate is noisy (phones ringing, people talking, etc.), it’s close to impossible to make your points. The same holds true if you take a phone call or are busy texting while someone sits across from you, hoping to share information or to hear what you have to say. Whenever your goal is to communicate, do so in an atmosphere that’s as “distraction-free” as possible.
Overlooking cultural differences. These days, CEOs and business owners, as well as HR and managers, are increasingly alert to the ways in which people differ in terms of culture, race and religion. If your workplace is indeed a multicultural environment, it’s crucial that you carefully inspect the language you use in your communications.
Watch for anything that could be deemed insensitive or inappropriate. Don’t assume everyone will understand a slang term. Avoid generalizations of how people as a group behave or express themselves. There’s great value in having a diverse workplace, as long as everyone is treated respectfully.
Not listening. Communications is more than just a business leader addressing his or her audience. Just as important is cultivating the art of active listening. How often do you find yourself mentally responding to what someone else is saying before they’ve even finished talking? Focus on what others tell you, but also on how they express themselves in terms of nonverbal cues and body language. Your communications efforts will benefit when people feel like you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Finally, don’t be afraid of over-communicating. Never assume that saying something once serves as the end-point in the process. Look for every way possible to impart your key message—through email, newsletter, staff meeting, etc. As long as you communicate clearly and to the point, don’t hesitate to repeat yourself in different venues. This way, it’s far more likely people will absorb your message and respond in ways that enhance business operations and promote growth.
Want to learn more effective communications? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!