Read the whole thing now on The Muse.
Think about the challenging communication issues you’ve had at work. Perhaps you can relate to this story.
Leslie, the executive director of a nonprofit, wanted to redo the brochure for the organization’s program helping at-risk youth stay in school, and she put Emma, the office manager, in charge.
Emma spent hours updating images, colors, and fonts. She was proud of her bolder, brighter reinvention, excited to show it to her boss.
When she did, however, there was clearly a problem. “Oh,” Leslie observed of the new brochure, “It looks great. But why is the copy still the same?”
Stunned, Emma couldn’t believe her ears. She’d never thought about revising the copy. And Leslie had never suggested it. How could two people talking about one simple thing have such different interpretations?
Leslie and Emma experienced the classic issue immortalized by George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” There are going to be people in the workplace who, like Leslie, who aren’t very good at getting their ideas across to you.
And when they don’t, it can create obstacles. It can send you spinning off into a miscommunication limbo. Wasted time, dreaded rework, and total misfires can mount up when your colleague, or boss, doesn’t communicate what they want efficiently or effectively.
You can wish all day for these folks to communicate more clearly. But that probably shouldn’t be your go-to strategy. Instead of wishing, try the following three techniques to get clearer, more effective communication from others. In the article on The Muse, you’ll read more details about how to get others to communicate more effectively with you in these situations:
1. When You’re Taking on an Assignment
2. When You’re in a Meeting
3. When You’re Working on Email
It would be great if everyone communicated in a way that left nothing to the imagination. The reality is we communicate in complex, noisy workplaces fraught with distraction and stress.
When important conversations are happening it’s good practice to help those around you communicate concisely so that you extract the information you need from them. It might be a bit uncomfortable when you first try, but in the long run, you will get better and more comfortable with doing so. Bonus, it will save you hours of stress and misdirected energy in the process.