West End Training

Effective Communication. Getting Your Message Across

Consider the following questions:

• How often have you given an instruction to a work colleague, only for it to be wrongly or inadequately done, or not even done at all?

• How often do you find yourself having to explain yourself over and over again in order to make yourself understood?

• How often do you find yourself getting incredibly frustrated with the situation and with those you are trying to communicate with?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, who would you attribute the blame for the lack of effective communication to? If you consider it the fault of those you are speaking to, you may be making one of the most common mistakes of business people when communicating – lack of understanding is rooted in others, not ourselves.

In actual fact, even though we communicate everyday, the ability to do so effectively is much harder than we might think. Many people negate to use the basics, and as a result find themselves being misunderstood, as they have fail to get their message across. Learning to communicate effectively and get your message across is actually not as difficult as it may seem. In a business context, communication cannot be taken as lightly as in normal circumstances, as far more is at stake.

The first key aspect to effectively getting your message across is preparation. Let us assume for the purpose of this article that you are preparing to issue instructions to a work colleague for an assignment you would like them to undertake. Prepare what it is you would like to say to them, and what it is exactly that you want them to do. It is important before you communicate to them that you have the task completely clear in your own head.

After mentally preparing what it is you want to communicate, consider whether the instructions are going to be clear enough simply in a verbal manner. Would it be beneficial to actually make some simple notes for clarification? It is often difficult for people to absorb a great deal of information at once, and it can be helpful to provide them with some written notes for later reference.

Before commencing your communication, make sure that you can do so in the correct environment. Ensure that you will be uninterrupted whilst you communicate – it is easy to become distracted and lose the strength of the message you are conveying. Telephone calls and other visitors very easily limit the effectiveness of messages being communicated if they encroach upon when it is being done. If it is an important communication you are giving, then schedule in a specific time into your diary to ensure it can be done effectively and uninterrupted.

With good preparation, effective communication is much easier, as you are likely to sound much clearer and sure of yourself. Being precise is an undervalued gift when communicating; by sounding precise you are far more likely to grasp the attention of your listener. You should also avoid the vague terms that many people use when communicating, thus confusing their listener; something that frequently happens when communicating. Too many people make assumptions about their listener’s knowledge, which can be a big downfall. Not everyone in a department will share the same information and knowledge, and in assuming too much of your listener you may limit the effectiveness of your message. They may have gaps in their knowledge that could prevent them from undertaking the task well.

In order to avoid making such assumptions, it is important to check that your listener does understand what it is that you have asked of them. Communicating is a two-way thing, even when it is in a situation that you are trying to get your message across to others. It is as important to listen to what your listener has to say, as it is for them to be listening to what you say. If they do not understand, find out what it is specifically that they do not understand, and explain it again. If they still do not understand, it could be the method you are using to explain things, so consider a different approach.

As well as clarifying with your listener that they have understand, it is also important to clarify what it is you want from them. Define what the end result will be, or what it is precisely you want the assignment to do. In terms of its execution, you must stress its priority level. If the assignment needs to be done as a matter of priority, stress this. However, it is not effective simply to state that it is a priority; put a deadline on it, so it is clear to both parties what is expected. After the communication, it may be necessary to follow it up, to ensure that the message has been fully appreciated and is being put into action.

Top tips for effective communication:

• Preparation
• Consider writing down details for clarification
• Make sure you are uninterrupted
• Be precise
• Do not make assumptions about your listener’s knowledge
• Check your listener understands what they are being told
• Define the end result
• Set a deadline
• If necessary, follow up instructions

By following these simple instructions, and employing them in your communications, you will find that it is much more effective. Communication is a two way thing – if you find yourself not being understood, consider your communication style. Is it really as effective as you thought?