I thought about this in the context of how dependent we have all become on this medium that I am now attempting to communicate with you through. Don’t get me wrong…I am a huge supporter of it, because it has allowed me to connect with people and organizations globally. However, as with anything else, there’s an art to keeping it balanced. Just in the last few days I have had conversations…live ones, with colleagues and friends, who expressed the same frustration, “why can’t I get through to them?” As a communication and conflict specialist, the challenge was on.
So here are some thoughts, use them or not. I’m not reinventing the wheel, just reminding ourselves on the importance of ‘how’ we communicate. If it’s something absolutely important to ‘you’:
Make certain that you have a clear understanding of your message, what do you want to communicate. Just because it’s important to you, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be to the other person/s.
How do you want to communicate, in person, via telephone, email, chat, text, twitter? Every single one of these requires a specifically different approach.
These next two for me are crucial: timing and cultural sensitivity. Exactly because we are now so capable of communicating globally, these two are huge factors that overlooked,can lead to miscommunication and conflict. By timing, I do basically mean the time zone and day. Where are you located and where is the person/s you are trying to reach?
Cultural sensitivity is as important, maybe to you sending a text message or a chat message marked ‘high importance’ is sufficient, but is it to the other person? Perhaps to them a phone call signifies ‘high importance’.
I was reading an article about ‘make-overs’ for businesses, and the term struck me, maybe it’s not so much that we need to learn how to communicate. We need to adjust our communication knowledge to our 21st century personal and professional lives and to our technology. The challenges that lead to miscommunication are a constant because of the complexity of who we are; human beings, with all our positive and negative layers. However, the ability to communicate is our unique tool, how we choose to use that tool does require thought and adjustments, and in some cases, a ‘make-over’ will have terrific results.
Crystina Wyler is President of The Artful Communicator, a firm providing creative methods to facilitate communication and transform conflict.