Effective Communication: One Size Fits All, Right?
Strategies for Improving Communication
Communicating effectively in today’s world may seem like a daunting task. With the myriad of options available, how does one decide among face-to-face, e-mail, phone calls, text messages, tweets, etc? Furthermore, the additional challenge of deciding whether to be direct and to the point or indirect and long-winded is enough to drive a person mad! Ok, perhaps going mad is a bit of an exaggeration. Nonetheless, figuring out what it takes to get your point across effectively is often easier said than done.
“It really isn’t that complicated,” said David, a participant from my recent program on communicating with difficult people. He continued, “I just deal with everyone the same way. My style is to get straight to the point. I’m not a touchy feely person. If people don’t get what I’m saying, it’s not my fault.”
Whether you relate to David or not, the bottom line is that communication must not take a “one size fits all” approach. If the goal is to be understood, the key is to implement the following strategies.
Identify your preferred communication style. Style pertains to delivery, focus, pace, and approach. Then, identify the style of others. Keep in mind that aside from asking the people with whom you are communicating what their style is, the identification is going to be based on your perception.
Here is more regarding each of the style elements. First, delivery refers to how the message is sent; directly or indirectly. Second, focus deals with the subject of the message. Is the subject more about tasks or people? Third, pace refers to how fast or slow the message is sent. Lastly, approach reflects whether the communicator is outgoing or reserved.
In terms of low-tech, face-to-face interaction vs. all of the high-tech options, a sound guideline involves determining the emotional level of the message. Facts and figures are fine to disseminate personally or via technology. Messages involving feelings, opinions, etc. are best delivered in person or at minimum in a phone call.
The benefits of communicating effectively are endless. From increasing productivity, to reducing costly mistakes, choosing to create a tailor-made message for your intended audience is well worth the effort. Ensure that you and your organization are performing at a level of excellence by becoming a master communicator.
Did David choose to become a master communicator? By the end of the program not only did David share that he was going to change his communication attitude at work, he also planned to carry it over to his home life. He stated it had something to do with being tired of living in the dog house. Yet another benefit of becoming a master communicator!