Tuesday, 23 July 2019 19:15

How to Avoid Miscommuncation in the Workplace

Communicating clearly is a big challenge for all of us these days, but when miscommunication occurs in the workplace, the damage can sometimes be measured in dollars and cents. It can happen when employees don’t understand what’s expected of them, or when an executive’s description of a new initiative doesn’t inspire his or her intended audience. Worse, it can translate into operational confusion that in turn leads to problems with a company’s target audience.

Fortunately, business leaders wary of such problems can take action to keep lines of communication clear and open most of the time. Here at Baillie Lumber, we strive to connect with each other in ways that minimize potential misunderstanding or misdirection. We try to identify situations where a mix-up has occurred due to insufficient communication and learn to do better in the future.  DSC5163

In case your workplace has seen episodes of (costly) miscommunication, these tips might be helpful to keep in mind: 

Recognize episodes of miscommunication and acknowledge your part. As a business leader, it’s your responsibility to acknowledge when people have failed to understand your words and negative results have occurred. Of course, there may be an issue on the “receiving end” (that is, the person or persons you were addressing), but as CRM Learning notes, assuming responsibility “for your role in the problem will help the other person feel less defensive, and will pave the way for them to ‘own’ their part of the problem as well.” 

Be available to facilitate better communication. We hear a lot these days about leaders having an “open door” policy with their employees. While it’s not always practical, the general idea behind the policy is sound. Your team depends on you to share news about the company, industry trends that might affect, and new, innovative customer-centric initiatives.  

Consider having set hours during which employees can schedule to meet with you. Invite them to come to you with ideas and suggestions revolving around customer service, product improvements, and so on. You might be pleasantly surprised by what they have to say.  

Become a better listener. We’ve written before about how better listening can lead to stronger customer relationships. The same principle holds true for others with whom you interact (customers, investors, vendors, other stakeholders). To improve your listening skills and truly hear what’s being said to you, try the following: 

-  Ask clarifying questions.
- Refrain from interrupting.
- Think less about what you plan to say next.
- Eliminate distractions (like checking your mobile device while someone’s talking). 

All of these simple practices can significantly reduce occurrences of miscommunication in your workplace. 

Understand preferred modes of communications. Each of us has our own way of talking and getting our points across. Problems arise when styles of communication clash and fail to settle on common ground.  

To address this issue, learn more about how people with whom you most frequently interact prefer to communicate. Some like getting detailed messages, others just want to know what action you want them to take. Some people like to communicate face-to-face, while others benefit more from written messages. Adjusting to meet their needs greatly increases the odds your message will be heard and understood. 

At the end of a conversation, summarize what you’ve heard. It’s not uncommon for two or more people to end a discussion and each come away with a different understanding of what’s been said. This can be avoided if you or another participant takes a moment to summarize the topic and specific action points discussed. 

Try summarizing a conversation before it ends. Express what you heard as the key points and confirm that’s what the other person intended to get across. If there’s been any confusion, this is the best time to nip it in the bud. 

Effective communications can be challenging, but with the right attention and focus, you can ensure that everyone in the workplace is on the same page and moving forward together. 

What methods have you found effective in avoiding miscommunications within your team? We would love to hear them.

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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