Have you ever looked at your barking dog and asked, “What is it, boy?” You know they’re trying to tell you something, but you’re not sure if Timmy is stuck in the well again or if they just really want a treat. It can be difficult to keep guessing what they need, all because they cannot communicate effectively.
Businesses depend on many forms of communication to be successful, whether it be emails, phone calls or face-to-face meetings. If a lack of communication skills is encountered, it can lead to frustration, confusion and even lost opportunities.
Effective internal communication is one of the most valuable assets a business can have. The ability to give concise directions, explain a procedure clearly and even voice an opinion without the fear of backlash benefits both employees and business owners alike. For example, an employee is asked to pull a red cup and a blue fork from inventory. Instead, they pull a blue cup and a red fork. They may have heard you speak, but they’re not taking the time to listen to what you’re saying. This lack of communication could result in scrap, time wasted on rework or an unhappy customer.
On the other hand, if an employee asks for clarification on work instructions, but instead is handed a copy of the same work instructions, the employee may feel frustrated or unable to rely on their supervisors when needed. Businesses should strive to create a strong sense of teamwork and trust, both of which are fueled by effective communication.
When communicating, remember these tips:
Repeat back what is being asked of you. This shows that you’re paying attention and clears up any potential miscommunications. For example, someone may be asking if you know of a good car wash, but you heard “wash my car.” If you repeat the request back, you’ll save the time you would’ve spent getting the soap and bucket ready.
Don’t nod in agreement and then walk away confused. Ask questions if you’re unsure. You’ll save yourself from having to go back and ask questions later, which makes it look like you weren’t listening.
Get to the Point
Be clear and concise. Avoid using filler words and keep the rambling to a minimum. If you’re asking for something, reiterate your expectations at the close of the conversation.
Be Open-Minded and Respect Others
Just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Disagreeing with someone’s opinion shouldn’t result in an argument or disrespect. Allow the person to speak without interruption. If they become confrontational, you’re not required to engage. Politely excuse yourself and revisit the issue once there has been time to cool down.
Do what you say when you said you would. If a customer requests information and you tell them, “I’ll find out and get back to you,” find out and get back to them within 24 hours. If you don’t have the information by that time, give them a courtesy call to let them know you’re still working on it. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’m not sure, let me find out.”
Communication is a two-way street that should be driven down with caution. It’s okay to pump the brakes to ensure you arrive at the right destination, even if it takes stopping to ask for directions a few times. After all, one wrong turn and you may find yourself at the bottom of the well with Timmy.