Are You Communicating Properly?

    March 14, 2007

Even when you think you’re communicating properly, you may not be. If you’re anything like me (and honestly, let’s hope you’re not!) you find yourself getting frustrated from time to time because some people are not following your directions. You couldn’t be any more clearer, right? Well, maybe you could!

When you think that your employees just don’t listen or follow directions very well perhaps its time to sit down and start listening to yourself for a change. Get out of your own head for a second and hear your directions from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t already know what you want.

What do you hear? Clear, precise directions or instructions that can be left to interpretation? Many times when we give instructions what we think is obvious–and therefore left unsaid–isn’t so obvious to anyone else.

Luckily, these errors in communication can easily be fixed.

I’ll use myself as an example about communication gone awry. Several days ago when I was flying out to Portland, I got to the airport only to realize that I forgot to un-dock my laptop and stick it in my travel bag. I was lucky in two things, 1) I had plenty of time and 2) I work within an easy walking distance to the airport.

I quickly called my office and asked Jason to bring the computer out to me. Left unsaid was that I wanted him to bring it to the Airport, not just bring it outside the building. Since I walked to the airport Jason assumed that I’d simply walk back to get the computer. Nope, I wanted him to drive it over–that would be quicker.

But again, that part about driving it over was left unsaid. He might actually be walking it over! I realized this so I called him back a second time and told him that I wanted him to drive over to the Airport with the machine. Of course, he’s just lazy enough to want to drive it over anyway (why walk when the weathers nice, right!) so that was a non-issue. But it could have been.

When communicating directions to employees or subordinates or even fellow coworkers, its important that you be as precise and clear as possible. Instructions left unsaid will often result in work left undone or worse, done incorrectly. So think about how and what you say. Keeping communication clear helps everyone and avoids unnecessary “corrections” that inhibit productivity.

So the next time you give out directions take a second and listen to see if you’re really saying what you think you’re saying.