When people share ideas with others, they communicate important information. But sometimes, miscommunication can occur, damaging work projects, interpersonal relationships, and morale. Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Make Friends and Influence People, stated that 90% of management problems are caused by miscommunication.
Here are five ways you can actively avoid miscommunication in the workplace.
Concentrate On What Is Being Said
Have you ever been in a meeting, and you find yourself concentrating on the following point you want to make that you are no longer listening to the person you are with? Train yourself to hear, not just focus on your reply. Don’t worry about your counter-argument, instead focus on what the other person is saying. Encourage the person through your body language to know you are listening. Don’t interrupt them. You might even want to try to repeat what they say so that you demonstrate that they genuinely understand their point of view. Only then should you worry about what you will offer next.
Stop and Listen
When you are instructing others on your team on what needs to be done next, make sure that you are not only communicating your ideas but that everyone is comprehending the challenge ahead. Once you are done, stop and listen to their concerns and ideas. Communication is a two-way street.
Similarly, if you are on the receiving end of instructions and directions, don’t make assumptions about what you are being told. Ask questions. Have you ever been to your doctor and had her explain something in a way that only another doctor might understand? Unless you ask questions, you won’t understand what is going on. Unless you ask questions of others at work, you might misdirect your energy.
Non Verbal Cues
Pay attention to non-verbal cues to get a sense of what people genuinely want to say. Consider a person’s eye contact, voice, and behavior. If you are presenting at a meeting and someone is slouching in their chair or looking at the phone, chances are they are sending you a non-verbal signal.
Don’t cloud your message with unnecessary or confusing language. This is especially true with emails that can easily be misinterpreted but can also be seen when someone doesn’t tailor their message to the person they are with. When you have to deliver a message, write out your message points and refer to your list during the conversation.
Respect Different Communication Styles
If you work in an environment where your colleagues are much younger or older than you, or if they come from a different culture, be extra sensitive that people from other groups have different ways of communicating and have different expectations about how information is shared. You and your team might need some training to sort this out, as unguided conversations about this issue can sometimes lead to other problems.
Conflicts in the workplace occur. Following these steps and being away from communicating more effectively can reduce the tension that can occur.