“The single biggest problem in communication, is the illusion that it has taken place.”
There are varying credits to who said this first, but wow, does it speak some truth?!
Communication means different things to different people, and especially when it comes to workplace communication, the key to successful working relationships lies in agreeing to communication terms.
What do I mean?
Well, as the whole world shifts to a more remote or “virtual” workforce, communication is more important than ever. As people are working together, but perhaps in different locations, digital communication needs to be a priority.
Common business communication issues
According to a Gallup survey, 46% of employees rarely or never leave a meeting knowing what they’re supposed to do next. And a Garter survey reveals 28% of employees cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time while 7% of workers believe that communication impacts tasks every day.
Even anecdotal evidence can point to some common communication faux pas. I am sure you can list several examples of your own!
Here are some of the most common business communication issues we’ve seen in modern workplaces:
1. Misaligned expectations: Sometimes it can be frustrating to deal with levels of communication between teams and project members. There is nothing worse than having to deal with mixed messages, or message overwhelm.
Think about how we all communicate on a daily basis with our clients, suppliers, stakeholders, or internal staff.
Some people prefer email. Others just want to jump on the phone. Some people like to take their time to respond. Others will reply so quickly you’ve barely heard the swoosh of your email being sent!
It’s really valuable to set out some boundaries and expectations early on – a great way to do this is to add some critical elements into your agreement. Outline preferred communication methods (email, text, etc), your office hours, and any urgent or after-hours pricing you have.
Then you can refer people to the agreement if lines begin to be blurred. Just like projects can suffer from “scope creep”, subtle changes can creep up in how you both engage which might start to cause problems over time.
2. Unclear direction or leadership: Preferred communication could also relate to the way jobs or projects are described or set out. Are you giving clear direction? Is there a deadline? What resources will you be supplying versus the other party?
3. Not respecting cultural differences: Failing to account for differences in cultural expectations can be an issue as modern workplaces are often more diverse than ever before, especially those businesses that work with international clients or employees. Words can take on different meanings, and cultural norms surrounding nonverbal communication may vary.
4. Letting emotions run the show: A good communicator allows emotions to sit for a while and then chooses to carefully respond rather than react.
5. Using a “One-Size-Fits-All” approach: We do need to consider people have preferred methods of communicating. Try to cater to this and be flexible in our communication methods and strategies.
Why you’re damaging a relationship if you ignore preferences
Working to meet each other’s communication preferences means that you respect each other.
Therefore, ignoring preferences can damage relationships as the other party might feel disrespected, unvalued, or not able to speak up.
On the flip side, if you ignore your own preferences to constantly please others, you might end up feeling resentful or unmotivated.
It is crucial that all parties can outline their preferred communication methods, what level of communication they want or need on any given day/week, and what strategies can be put in place to deal with any conflicts that might come from communication issues.
When all parties are considered, and a manageable comprise is made, everyone can work together in harmony and actually get stuff done!
Clear communication: how it can benefit both businesses
If you are working with clients or sub-contractors, understanding preferred communication methods will actually benefit your business – and theirs.
If you follow the requested methods (aka quicker response times, tracking all in one place instead of across multiple platforms) it identifies your personality types. Some people prefer to work with one thought per message while others might wait for an email’s worth of task requests before writing it all up.
You can also see benefits with time availability (mums with school-age children, part-time workers, different timezones).
Tangible business benefits of good communication:
- Improved efficiency thanks to clarity in task management
- Satisfied staff, contractors, or clients, which leads to better retention
- Higher productivity leading to a better bottom line
- Reduced risk of email overload
- More time to grow the business and create new products or services
Effective business communication is essential for the success and growth of every business. If you want to be able to get things done and meet your goals, it pays to have clear communication.
And if you want to build respectful relationships, make sure you consider the preferred communication methods of all parties involved in the project.
At INKBLOTVA, we like to talk to our clients in their language.
Get in touch with us via the website HERE.