We hear that a lot: efficient communication is essential for professionals to develop their skills and grow; efficient communication impacts the quality of the work environment; efficient communication can save a lot of money and time to a business.
But what is it? What does it mean? Quite honestly, I find “efficient” to be a boring corporate term, but I still use it because it englobes all that makes communication such a powerful tool. For your ease, I broke down this abstract concept into a number of elements. So, communication is efficient when:
- It is clear and doesn’t leave much room for interpretation.
What exactly do we want to communicate? What is the main idea? The person conveying a message is also the one who should perfectly understand what the message is about. Only then, will they be able to explain it, to communicate it to other people.
Moreover, it is important that we deliver the message in such a way, that the recipient really gets it. In other words, we should always know who our audience is and speak their language. This means that we:
– take into account their working proficiency in English or in the language used to communicate (in case it’s not the recipient’s mother tongue)
– avoid idioms or common expressions that a non-native might find difficult to understand
– keep in mind the recipient’s professional experience – a newcomer does not, by definition, have the same level of experience in our company or with our products
- The verbal message is correctly articulated
Although frequently ignored, diction can have a huge impact on our communication and lead to misunderstandings. We should simply try to listen to ourselves speak: are all words clear? Do we pronounce them correctly and entirely?
There are tons of diction exercises on the internet and I strongly recommend that all professionals try one every once in a while. I was recently shopping for a new health insurance provider and even though I was very interested in the offer I got from one of the companies on my list, I rejected it and chose another one because I could not understand a word of what my future account manager was talking about on the phone.
- The written message is grammatically correct and typo-free
A written message makes me think about getting ready to go to a meeting: find the right outfit, put on a nice pair of shoes, a bit of make-up, get the hair to look good even on a bad-hair day, you know the drill. Well, it’s the same when we write an e-mail or a direct message: it does make a difference when the content is grammatically flawless and typo-free. It affects how other people perceive us and like it or not, it affects their impression of our professional abilities.
In addition to the correctness of our message, we might want to think about the structure as well: long texts looking like bricks will harm our communication. We are constantly running out of time and patience. A written message is ideally not long and if it has to be, then bullet points and delimited paragraphs are here to save the day.
- Technical terms are wisely and carefully employed
Whenever we need to communicate with the outside world or colleagues from other departments, let’s remember that the technical terms we use on a daily basis might not mean much to them. Employing such technical terms that they will most probably misunderstand or not understand at all could lead to frustration, waste of time and ruin both our communication and relationship with the recipient of our message.
- The sender uses their emotional intelligence to detect whether the message is understood
I like to play this game with participants in my communication workshops that has one simple purpose: highlight the importance readiness has when we deliver a message. It is our responsibility to ensure that the other person is ready to receive our message and more than that, they understands what it’s communicated to them.
When addressing a person verbally, we should look out for signs telling us that our message is not clear: for example, when they don’t react a lot or not immediately, we should help them understand by asking questions and providing additional information (and not by repeating the same message – they’re not deaf).
When we choose to communicate in writing, we might want to provide all the information that might be useful to them and even insert a paragraph saying that, if needed, they can always reach out, should they have questions or comments. Leaving the communication doors open can save us all a lot of time.
- The message is delivered with empathy and kindness
We should always remind ourselves that we’re all different and look at the world differently. We have different work rhythms, we react differently to stress. So, empathy has to play a key, constant role in all our interactions. Let’s put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, try to understand what they think ad how they feel.
Moreover, let’s try and run our businesses and do our jobs with kindness and respect, essential to all human relationships. Kindness is one of the simplest tricks in the book: it has the power to change every single relationship we build.
Efficient communication may sound boring and outdated, but we need to understand now, more than ever, that everything it represents can help us change our environment for the best.