As I close another chapter on the planning of the Boomer Technology Circles Summit, the word that draws my focus is communication. With this year’s Summit being the first for which I took the lead, the importance of communication in the workplace, especially across departments, became readily apparent to me. With the Summit being such a large scale event, understanding the communication rules and how to avoid a breakdown was imperative to the success of the event.
Communication. Such a simple word. But is it really that simple? With all of the types of communication used in the business world today it could not be any more complex. So many communication rules. So many communication types. From non-verbal to written, the list is endless and hard to keep straight with each project or situation seemingly needing a particular communication plan to follow. What does your communication plan look like? What are the rules you live by? What must happen, or not happen, to not just make your project work, but succeed?
In this article I will cover the five communication rules I live by when I start a project and what drives it throughout the entire process.
Tips for Written Communications
While a large percentage of your communication will be verbal, business relies heavily on written communication such as emails, spreadsheets or reports. When structuring your written forms of communication, there are several different elements that must come into play to make sure your message is clear and concise.
First, you must decide what type of written communication is the best for each situation and audience. Will you need to send a simple email? Does the situation call for developing a detailed report? Are you speaking to the owner of the company or the IT staff? Depending on your audience and structure of your document, your message and tone will vary.
Second, remember that breaking up your text so that it is user friendly and easy to read is very important. You want your recipient to be able to pick out the key information with a quick scan of the document.
Third, brushing up on your grammar skills will benefit you in the long run. Providing your clients with proofed, error-free writing will show your level of professionalism in the project. If proof reading and grammar checking is not your forte, a tip would be to make sure you have someone you work with help you in making sure the information that you are sending out is planned, organized and most importantly, mistake-free.
Listening is the Key to Verbal
Most people consider themselves good listeners but in actuality most people are not. Sure they hear what you are saying but are they really taking in the information that is coming out of your mouth? Do they understand what you are trying to tell them? Listening, in the world of communication, is just as important as the talking part. In some situations it is the most important part.
You must understand that the messages that are coming back to you are just as important as the information and messages that you are sending out. Try actively listening to what your client wants. Engage in their needs and wants for the project at hand. Clear your mind of all other thoughts and concerns, know when to be quiet and do not interrupt. Follow your active listening plan and show your client that they and their project are at the top of your priority list.
Plan, Plan and Then Plan Some More
A plan. Must we always have a plan when we start a project? No, but if you want to take your project to the next level and celebrate with champagne at the end then yes, you should always have a plan.
A plan doesn't always have to be a detailed strategic or business plan but you do always need to ask yourself these questions:
- Who needs something, what do they need, and when do they need it?
- How much detail or lack of detail should I provide?
- Can this be a simple email or do I need to send a spreadsheet or report along with it?
- What kind of person am I talking to?
- What are my obstacles?
- What are my challenges?
Tackle the who, what, where, when, why and how and you will see the worth of planning before you take action on your project.
Identify Your Barriers
There are so many obstacles and barriers to overcome and acknowledge when you are getting ready to communicate to someone, whether personality-based, culturally-based or politically-based. Realizing that everyone does not require the same amount or type of information will help you in knowing how to best craft your message to get the answers you need.
At Boomer Consulting our knowledge use of Kolbe A to determine communication styles has helped us in knowing how we should change our communication methods based on whom we are talking to. We have determined that if you can learn to change your communication plan and tailor it to each of your clients based on their learning styles, you can change the way the game is played.
Don't Beat Around the Bush
This rule is simple and something your mom should have told you growing up. Be clear. Be concise. Be direct. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Period.
Remember, communication is one of the biggest challenges today. Everyone has their own set of rules and checklists to follow in order to deliver great communication. Make your communication count. Take into account communication rules and identify your own personal communication plan. Watch how you can enhance your communication skills and develop the steps you must take to take your projects farther.