By Lindsey Anderson, CPA
Manager, Tax Services
In this digital age of constant communication, you probably think we are all experts at communicating by now. However, when you examine most sources of conflicts, you’ll recall the iconic line from the classic film Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”
How does communication fail? Information can get lost in translation or taken out of context, especially in this culture of communicating online in 140 characters or less. Perhaps you’re relying too much on internal shorthand or jargon, thus alienating your audience.
To ensure that you’re communicating effectively, a good first step is to ask people for their preferred method of communication. Email? Phone calls? Texting? Be responsive to their personal preference. This is especially important with customers and fellow co-workers, including your managers.
Another way of properly communicating is through practicing active listening. When you’re actively listening, you’re not just smiling and nodding along. You’re making the speaker feel truly heard by repeating what they say back to them and giving them a chance to correct you if there is a misunderstanding. In order to be effective and fruitful, communication requires this kind of thorough back and forth. But in this day and age, we’re quicker to fire off a cryptic email or text, which only increases rage and provides no solutions!
In the same way that reading makes you a better writer, active listening makes you a better communicator. It takes practice and discipline.
You can’t take communication for granted. Effective communication is vital because it can lead to opportunities that can help you grow. In his book, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, leadership expert John C. Maxwell writes: “In life’s journey we face many doors. Hidden behind them are all kinds of possibilities leading to opportunities, experiences and people. Questions are the keys to opening these doors.”
Whether you’re talking to customers, vendors, employees or the higher-ups within your company, every interaction you have is an opportunity to learn and improve. So listen closely and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
You will find that a little bit of extra effort and patience can provide exponential benefits, rather than increasing frustrations and destroying productivity.