Why Communication is the Hardest Work You Ever Do
I was dog tired and called a friend to pick me up from a distant airport. We called, texted….all done, right?
When I arrived, I texted him. I walked outside. I called him on the phone. “WHERE ARE YOU?”
After 10 minutes of me looking for him and him looking for me, I realized he was at a different airport 80 miles away!
My bad. How could that have possibly happened?
“Communication.” It’s the hardest work you will ever do.
Here are my five (current!) “foolproof” hacks that will help you make sure your “communication” is not a “miscommunication”:
1. Speak it AND write it.
“Just saying it is not enough.” The person you are talking to may be distracted at the very moment you give them key information…uh-oh.
Follow up a verbal conversation with a text, email, or letter. Remind them of the salient points you covered as a backup of what you discussed.
2. Listen AND watch.
Non-verbal communication tells you much more than verbal communication.
When their eyebrows are raised and their arms are crossed, chances are they are not tracking with your drift!
I prefer to do FaceTime video or face-to-face meetings in sensitive situations when possible for that very reason.
Why? We unconsciously pick up more alerts and clues by FACE than we do by PHONE.
3. Focus AND record.
I heard about a great interviewer who doesn’t even take notes during their interview! They record their interviews (with permission of course) so they can FOCUS.
The interviewer learned that when they are busy taking notes they miss non-verbal cues that would help them to ask further important questions.
If you can’t record an important conversation, always takes notes. “A pencil never forgets.” Without it, I can forget some critical details in just a few days…particularly the older I get!
4. Summarize AND repeat.
Here is a big one I learned in counseling: Always repeat what a conversation has been about. Both parties should go away with a summary in their minds.
In addition, repeat any action steps you have agreed to take. “So…I’m going to meet you at 2:30 pm on Thursday with a report on the status of _________.”
5. Plan AND relax.
More planning requires less communication. When everything is last minute and off schedule, your communication usually leaves out a key detail!
Take your time when you are communicating. Say it SLOWER. Don’t stumble over words. Slower, effective communication can save you major mistakes.
Work at it.
Focus on it.
Listen before you speak.
Seek to understand.
Write it down.
Go over it again. And again.
Or, you could enjoy a nice 90-minute wait … at the wrong airport.