Can I start with a rant about how poor communication affects productivity?
The Organizing industry has embraced productivity (for organizers who choose this specialty) and more and more of us are working to help individuals and businesses be more productive. Productivity is a buzz word right now!
But as I work on organizing projects I’m always mindful to be as productive as possible. There’s no doubt that communication affects productivity. Here’s an example of a recent stumble. I was working with someone to sort and organize “stationary” and since the client was not with me I interpreted what I thought she meant as all cards/envelopes and letterhead. BUT when the client returned they told me they didn’t consider the cards to be stationary…they were upset that I had taken time to work on this and they thought they had given clear instructions! You just never know which is why you must ask!
Poor communication can be the biggest obstacle to productivity!
Our thoughts and ideas are buzzing around in our heads and we often don’t know quite how to communicate our vision or expectation to others. This can be a huge stumbling block or in some cases a total road block to accomplish goals and meet deadlines. I have worked on teams that required me to communicate across different language barriers, technology hurdles and time zones, none of that made things easier…but they taught me to simplify and clarify communication!
But it’s those times when someone else isn’t available to answer questions that mus-understandings or other communication can break down, like my stationary example. Sometimes our own interpretation of other people’s ideas can cause major challenges. Those challenges can cause general annoyance as well as morale to plummet, which has been proven to lower productivity. So what can we do to prevent this?
Strategies for better communication:
Ask a lot of questions! When I’m working with others, I do this throughout, in a conversational manner. Sometimes I need to ask questions rapid fire, probably to the point of annoyance for some! Be very direct about what you need to know, list questions out before writing emails, making phone calls or going to a meeting. Really listen to the other person’s response! Are you hearing them or what you want to hear?
Beware of how technology impacts our communication. Our voice, tone, language and the words we use can be easily misinterpreted. Interpretation can be an especially dangerous game when sending messages in short formats’ such as text messages. Beware of email etiquette and take responsibility for how people may misinterpret by being short, sweet and to the point in your written communication.
Eliminate distractions and interruptions. When you are trying to communicate an idea or important topic, distractions and interruptions can totally derail our train of thought and leave us without important pieces of the “puzzle”. Turn your ringer off, shut your office door and give your direct attention to whatever it is you are needing to communicate.
Keep your communication short, simple and clear. Think about the idea you need to communicate from the receiving end and try to troubleshoot any potential pitfalls.
Timing, this one is huge! Are you being mindful of when and what the other person might be doing? Are you texting in the middle of the night? Are you expecting an answer right away? Be mindful of both the timing of your communication, your expectation of returned communication (send someone a gentile and kind reminder if you haven’t heard back in 24-48hrs) and are you being mindful of returning other communication in a timely manner or letting them know if you expect to be delayed?
Re-evaluate your own poor communication habits, such as interrupting, multitasking, not listening and avoiding direct contact. Good communication habits are about more than just delivering your message. It’s equally important to know how your message was received. It’s not about who is right or wrong and it’s always important to remember to listen (more than you speak).
Ultimately poor communication affects productivity but can lead to much bigger problems…it’s a downward spiral. Take a few moments to reflect on how your style of communication might be received by others.
Are there are some new tools you can implement that will help you be more productive in the way you communicate for success?
Mary Carol Koester says
Very timely response. I have just recently started practicing suspending my own thoughts while listening. My whole life I have listened to reply.