Broken telephone is a fun game to play – but not so much in the world of professionals.
Miscommunication can lead to mistakes and poorly produced work, as well as sour relationships and workplace environments. Moreover, it can be time-consuming and difficult to correct the error, especially if you don’t realize the other person misunderstood in the first place.
This article will provide several tips on avoiding miscommunication. They are applicable to more than the workplace, so keep these in mind for the future.
Don’t beat around the bush
This goes for both conversations and emails. Start with the subject you wish to discuss then elaborate. For example, “I want to talk to you about taking two weeks off for vacation next month” would be a good way to start, then follow with “I have accumulated this many vacation hours and I want to check with you that the team will be fine while I’m away.” In emails, make sure the subject line is clear and specific.
Do your research beforehand
Don’t start a conversation without knowing all the details beforehand. For example, if you want to discuss attending a conference, know when and where it is, how much would it cost, and who will be attending. This allows you to keep work conversations efficient. This also applies to emails: if there is too much “back and forth” in an email, you risk burying important information in the chain.
End conversations with a quick summary. For example, say “So just to make sure we’re on the same page, you’re going to research this and I’m going to draft the report due next week.” If the other person was unsure about something during the conversation or forgot, this is a great way to clarify everything.
Write a follow-up email
Miscommunication is less likely to happen in written format, since everything is documented and people are usually able to re-read any info they missed. Not only will you have a record to refer to later, it’s helpful to summarize important meetings and conversations. Just a few bullet points will do – make sure to send the email to everyone that would have attended the meeting, so if a colleague missed it, they will be updated.
Use bold or italics in email
If appropriate, consider using bold or italics in emails. This will be most helpful if your email has multiple sections and you can emphasize the headings to clearly distinguish the sections. It can also be helpful to bold or italicize a few important things; for example, if an important report is due a certain date, bold it.
Together, these tips will help you enhance your communication skills, which is broadly applicable in various workplaces.