Research indicates that supervisors spend about 75% of their work time communicating. How they handle communication affects management performance and the performance of the employees they supervise – better communication yields better results. This is important for both the outcome of the company and one’s own career.
No matter the situation communication is a critical factor; it distinguishes those who succeed from those who don’t and unfortunately, it is much more difficult than it seems.
Most people believe they communicate very well. They also believe most other people communicate poorly. This suggests that we tend to exaggerate our own ability to communicate. Why? Because we picture what we are saying when we speak and assume our words evoke the same image in our listeners’ minds. That’s not necessarily true – or even likely. It is common to presume that we are getting our message across when actually we may be completely misunderstood. As listeners, we tend to assume we understand what others are saying which may not be the case.
An example of a situation:
What Your Manager Thinks: People who really care about the organization take on the responsibility of doing important projects themselves.
What You Think: People who care about the organization delegate important projects to others, so that those individuals will have a chance to grow.
One day, your manager inquires about an important task she recently gave you. You tell her you delegated the task to one of your best employees and you think she will be pleased. She expected you to do the task yourself based on beliefs she has not expressly communicated and therefore she believes that you do not care about her or the work. In reality that wasn’t at all the perception you were trying to project; you meant to convey that you value it highly. A miscommunication has occurred. It could cost you the relationship and create further misconceptions unless you can overcome the barrier through clear communication that works to align your perceptions and eliminate preconceived notions.
Tips on How to Communicate Better
As you communicate with your peers, managers or subordinates, take the extra steps to insure you understand what they want from you. Repeat what you heard; when the conversation is over, both parties leave feeling confident they were heard and any issues and next steps are clear. If there is miscommunication, do your best to go back to that person in a timely manner and talk through what happened. This could uncover where the misstep happened and solve it from happening in the future.
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For more tips on communicating effectively visit past blog posts: