Probably the most important skill anybody needs today in private enterprise is the one rarely taught in our education system – how to communicate? This is the skill that gets people their first job, helps them get promoted, creates respect and trust from meetings, develops confidence in others, and help them become leaders.
More change has taken place in the past 30 years than in the whole history of mankind. This change has included ever-increasing technological advances to enable us to communicate faster, more efficiently and more effectively. Technological changes have indisputably led to faster and more efficient communication. We have
- Fax machines
- Telephone conferencing
- Video conferencing
but are we communicating more effectively? No.
- Stations that transmit news immediately
- Trade magazines
- Direct mail
- Specialist publications
- The World Wide Web
We are getting to the point of information overload, but are we communicating more effectively? No.
Everything that we do throughout each day involves communication in one form or another – at work and at home, in politics, commerce, education, sport, entertainment and the financial world. Communication touches every sphere of our lives. Yet communication is a largely undervalued, untaught asset in the modern world, often with disastrous results. When communication breaks down the bombs and the brickbats start flying about – whether in the home environment, the workplace or the global political arena.
Professor Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University recently stated – in a TV commercial, incidentally – that ‘the world’s problems could be solved if we kept talking’. This idea can be applied to almost any situation.
- Speak to people
- Smile at people
- Address people by name
- Be warm, friendly and helpful
- Be enthusiastic about life
- Be genuinely interested in people
- Look for the opportunity to give praise
- Be considerate of other people’s feelings
- Be thoughtful and respectful of other people’s opinions
- Be a great listener
Written – This is the most dangerous form of Communication. There is one simple rule that should be the basis of all written communication.
You must write not so that you can be understood, but so that you cannot be misunderstood.
Written communication has a long-lasting effect because it can be read over and over again. It can re-ignite joys and bitterness. In my years of consultancy work I have seen the written word cause more aggression, drama, and strikes than any other means of communication. The written word, if there is any ambiguity, will always be read negatively.
Email is one of the greatest inventions but is becoming the world’s biggest timewaster. It is not a management tool. Please don’t email your people – speak to them.
One golden rule of communication is: Never write negatively.
When the subject is someone’s behaviour or performance, no letters, faxes, inter-office memos, emails, notices and so on should be written in a way that could be construed as critical, condemning or complaining – in other words negative.
Before sending your written communication, re-read it and ask yourself what your reaction would be if your received it.
Always re-read written communication before its dispatch. This also applies to email where the consequences of a badly worded communication can be even worse than a letter – a letter is usually only read by just one individual, whereas an email can upset countless people.
Write short paragraphs – 2 to 3 lines per paragraph.