Communication is such a BIG word! Have you ever thought you had delivered a pretty clear message but subsequently it becomes clear the message was not received? Of course you have; it is incredibly common.
Here are a few thoughts about communication:
- Just because you communicated something to somebody does NOT mean they heard your message!
- If a message is important then you need to be 100% sure that people received that message.
- Email is a lousy way to communicate difficult or complex messages. Too many people have trouble concentrating beyond a couple of sentences.
- There are LOTS of reasons why people don’t hear your message
- They are expecting a different message and hear what they want to hear. You say, “You are doing a lot of good things BUT there is one thing that really needs attention!” They hear “Things are great!” or “I’m going to be fired!”, depending upon their personality;
- They are just not listening. Perhaps they are texting while you are delivering that important message, perhaps they are just being obstructive, like a petulant teenager;
- They don’t understand your message. Maybe it’s too technical, perhaps it’s not straightforward, perhaps you “wrap it up” in a way that loses effectiveness, or maybe your message is just too subtle;
- They don’t read your emails.
- If you are writing a letter, giving a presentation/speech or generally proposing an idea/solution there is a time worn formula that says,
(a) Tell them what you are going to tell them (the introduction);
(b) Then Tell them (the main part);
(c) Then tell them what you told them (the summary).
Not a bad approach to communication.
- Get their attention. If you start off strong then people are more likely to listen through your message. If you don’t grab their attention early, then you will have trouble holding it.
- If you can use multiple ways to get your message across, it will be more successful. Simple, well delivered messages are good. Supplementing that with a visual adds another element to getting the message across and if you can convince the listener to actually take notes then they are even more likely to process the message!
- Telling stories is another great way to hold people’s attention. When they can enjoy what you are saying and relate it back to their own experiences, they will process the message better.
- The words you use will win, or lose your audience. Use words that people can understand. Do not try to “show off” your extensive vocabulary!
- If you want to be GREAT at what you do then you need GREAT communication skills.
Communication is the key to the success of an independent contractor, from telling recruiters and clients why you’re the best person for a project, to explaining the technical details of a project to a client. If you’re not communicating well, then you’re going to miss out on future opportunities. So, when you have something important to communicate, whether it is to one person or to many, make sure they actually hear what you think they are hearing!