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Blog Banner Image The Art Of Poor Communication
 When you are in a commanding position – from a Lead to a CEO or Stakeholder, much is expected in terms of communication. Someone said ‘giving is the best form of communication’. What do you give? Information.

And what exactly is communication? Transmitting thoughts that can be read and understood. It’s not the mastery of the language or the command of the vocabulary that makes your communication good. These are of course required, if not good to possess, but the essence of communications gets down to the basics. The simpler the content, easier the read, and greater the understanding – it applies to both verbal and written form. We tend to assume speakers who can speak for hours are good communicators. Some of the greatest communicators, like Former President Ronald Reagan, who was known pen his own drafts, is hailed one amongst the best in connecting with the audience. That is the ultimate objective. Exchange of thoughts in manner there is no misunderstanding.

So what are the pitfalls in communication that makes it poor? There are many, and we have selected some of the most recurring and repeated mistakes.

Occupation Hazard:
It could be an occupation hazard or the work backdrop, that communication suffers – though unintentionally. A Marketing professional uses some jargon frequently used at the work place which subconsciously influences the fluency. “So, what is the bottom line?” can have many interpretations and mostly misunderstood. It can mean as the ‘most fundamental aspect’ or ‘the balance sheet’. So how does a kid understand? ‘What is that you want to say finally?’ that’s why the disclaimer ‘occupational hazards’. It happens. Take for instance, the acronyms. MSP can stand for “Managing Successful Programmes” to “Medicare Secondary Payer “and several more expansions. So the context is essential. Set the context, and even the jargons will fall in place. Else Mandarin and Cantonese become Chinese languages but totally different.

Follow the 5-minute rule:
this happens with mind boggling frequency at the senior level when they have to go through hundreds of mail in a day that some get missed out of oversight but the sender feels slighted and, at times, insulted. It is a good practice to post a return mail within 5 minutes, even if it’s just a line. “I am busy right now. Can I get back by the end of the day?” and let’s say you miss by the end of the day, the sender will give you the benefit of doubt that something caught up and put the response on hold.

Avoid condescension
; another bane when mail or phone calls are deliberately given a pass because of any reasons, mostly personal. Or even the gap in the ladder? “Oh, that person is just a junior”. To shake your head sideways to proclaim ‘I never did that’ is sanctimonious, at least, you would have delayed and assigned lower priority. To say the least, the very act is unprofessional. So avoid. Effective Leaders are known to make others feel exceptional, especially at the grassroots and above. Treat everyone alike actually commands respect that they salute your spirit.

Beating the bush:
Time is money, and when time gets wasted, the loss is colossal. This happens mostly in meetings when the speaker meanders, wandering around the world or circling around the centerpiece without ever approaching the subject. Agile standup meeting is cited as an example for its effectiveness in communication as there is an agenda and a time limit. Carry an agenda and stick to it without deviating much. There is a difference between brainstorming and team meetings. Let’s not confuse and get carried away. Sometimes, even after hours of deliberation, attendees have stepped out of the room scratching their head “what really went inside?” this is the reason ‘Minutes of Meeting’ helps.

Listen and let the other talk
. There is no need for dominate but carry the conversation. Don’t pretend listening or don’t listen with intent to ‘give it back’. There is a streak of self-righteousness in all of us and hence we feel right in our sight and assessment and most unwilling to entertain an alternate or opposing perspective. You learn a lot by listening f only there is patience and willing to hear out till the end without interrupting. Preempting or try to prove ‘I am always right’ only weaken your stance. Rather let the other speak and hear.  ‘The less he spoke the more he heard.’ Business conversations ought to be professional.

No Communication.
This is the worst form of communication. A meeting scheduled for a face to face interaction gets postponed or deferred or doesn’t happen at all.  A response to a mail is delayed, deferred or plainly ignored. This can be both discouraging and demoralizing. It is poor in etiquette, and pathetic to note that willful negligence can only resulted in wasted hours.

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