When engineers build a tunnel, two teams start at opposite ends of the mountain and have to meet, precisely, in the middle. No room for the smallest miscalculation, deviation or miscommunication. Any of the above leads to an epic fail.
This is the same for all communication – if your words do not connect with the person/people to whom you are communicating, then complications arise – with varying levels of fallout, depending on what it is you are trying to say. NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from English to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched. So, yes, communication is key.
Here are 5 ways to ensure you are communicating effectively:
- Precision – choose your words carefully and make sure they are not open to misinterpretation. This means being invested in the words you choose, and the idea behind them. Also fine tune the grammar and even the pauses in your sentences. The book “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” is an excellent example of what a difference a comma can make!
- Listen – the art of communication is for both parties to listen to each other and make sure that everyone is on the same page. If you bulldoze your way through a conversation it will have turned into a monologue and the connection will be lost.
- Use your filters – watch for signals from the person who you are talking to and adjust accordingly. Signs of boredom, irritation, disinterest are all indicators that there is a connectivity issue.
- Ask questions – don’t presume that your words have the same meaning to everyone. “What does that mean to you?” is a very useful question to ask – and you may get some surprising answers.
- How you say it – make sure the tone of your words is appropriate. There are many ways to get the same point across, but the most successful communicators ensure that the tone of what they are saying is exactly suited to the content. Tone is easily misinterpreted in written form, so take extra care when crafting a text or mail – and AVOID WRITING IN CAPS – it always comes across as shouting.