Communication is tricky. Having developed a friendship with someone over the internet, I learned over time that I would have to ask if there was a hidden meaning to the word because I can’t hear her say them, so I’m not sure what she meant. We do a lot with our tone of voice when communicating with others so taking that out of things, it can cause confusion.
Tone isn’t the only place that communication can go wrong. Communication is such a broad term that, to put it bluntly, there are a million different ways to mess it up. Here are some of the biggest offenders that can cause communication to fail – at least as far as I’m concerned.
Email / IM / Chat / Etc. -- They are, in my humble opinion, part of business. In this day and age, if you are not working with these kinds of services, then you’re falling behind. The problem is that when communicating through these forums, you lose all of your tone – and tone is so incredibly important. A good rule of thumb is the first time you have to ask yourself “I wonder what he/she means by that” during an email or chat conversation, it’s probably time to pick up the phone to finish the conversation.
Distractions – Things like the TV, your cell, or computer. At my house, I always forget that my hubby can look at the TV and listen, just like I can text and listen at the same time. It leads to a lot of those “You’re not even listening to me, are you?” moments. This is easily overcome by turning off whatever it is that is distraction.
Spelling / Grammar – Cruise on over to FailBlog and check out how quickly a spelling error or using the wrong context of a word can send a message spiraling out of control. Use your spell check or get someone to read over emails or newsletters before you send them out. Abbreviations – Once, a long time ago, I asked my boss a question in IM and his response was “Y”. I didn’t know if he meant yes or why, and it required me to get up to clarify, adding an extra step in our communication process. It’s best to just spell words out in their completion to avoid any kind of confusion.
Implied Meanings – Making someone guess what you mean is no fun when you’re on the other side of it. If you mean something, come right out and say it – don’t make people guess.
Those are just a few of the things that can make communication go wrong and how you can get around them. What kind of things have you experienced that has made communication go wrong and how do you fix them?