We all know or at least have been told how important communications is. Why is it though many of us have trouble communicating? Some of us are just a little shy. Some are to scatter brained. Some of us are so busy we just fail to communicate effectively.
We have all been guilty of not communicating properly from time to time, but it so important to our lives and to our businesses. So I’ve been thinking about this lately and decided to write about it to see if we can better our communication skills.
Being a business owner and being involved in Project Management one of my pet peeves is when people fail to communicate with me or fail to communicate properly with me. It is important to communicate, but it is also important to communicate properly. So what are some things we can do to communicate better?
When we are communicating with others we need to clearly state what it is we are trying to communicate. If possible gather your thoughts before communicating and make some notes to be sure that you’ve covered all your basis first. Then open lines of communication. Whether it be via phone, fax, email, or snail mail we should follow the same basic guidelines.
First clearly state why you are communicating. Do you just a need a sounding board and no action is required? Are you just thinking out loud? If so do you require a response or not? Is this just an FYI (for your information) and no action is required? Is this a To Do item? If so what action is required?
Then state the who, what, when, where, why, and the how of it all. Who is this project for? What is the project scope? When is it due? Where if there is a where to be discussed will this project take place or where is to be returned to? Why, what is the purpose of this project? Who is going to be participating in this project and what will each individual be responsible for? How is this project to be completed?
Write out your steps first. State the reason you are communicating. Put in all caps or bolded letters at the top of your communications and this will clearly let them know what the purpose of your communications are.
Listed below are some ideas to use. Use one of these call outs to grab their attention and inform them of your purpose.
- NEED SOUNDING BOARD:
- THINKING OUT LOUD:
- TAKE ACTION:
- TO DO:
- STATUS/STATUS UPDATE:
Then write out these words in a list form as seen below.
Then next to each write the description of each. You may not need to give all these details if you are for instance just using someone as a sounding board or thinking out loud, but if you are trying to communicate information regarding a project then this information needs to be given.
Example: (create your list)
Example: (fill in the details of your list)
TO DO: Call for rate comparisons
- Telephone companies
- Susie will put together a spreadsheet for you to track this information. So please get with Susie before collecting this information.
WHAT: Get rates and what those rates include
WHEN: (Date to be started and Date to be completed and if you need a status update then note when you would like that as well.)
- Date to be started:
- Status update on this Date:
- Date to be completed:
WHERE: Greater Cincinnati Area
WHY: To find the cheapest plan with the most options
HOW: Call or email
NOTES: (You can add any additional notes that you want to mention if there are any.) Contact Susie to get spreadsheet before starting collecting information. Ask if I already have a plan that requires a contract if they will buy out my contract before I sign with them.
This is just a basic procedure that we should’ve been taught in elementary school. Yet most of us fail to use it properly. We think I can communicate. I have been doing this all my life, but are we communicating effectively.
We were taught these simple principles from so young for a reason. It’s because it works and it is vitally important to have effective communications which results in effective personal and business relationships.
Ever wonder why your children always ask so many questions when we ask them to do something? It is a basic human need to have more information. To know why? To know who? To know what? To know where? Children will sometimes drive you crazy and you just want to say, “Because I said so”. Try instead giving them short simple answers and get them started in learning proper communications from a young age. This will help them and you open up the lines of communication and result in better relationship skills and thus better relationships.
If we fail to communicate properly then we fail ourselves, we fail our personal relationships, and we fail our businesses. Lack of proper communications will result in unnecessary frustrations and failures. So start practicing these basic principles today and ask others around you to practice them as well.