Unless you’re stranded on a desert island somewhere—and given that you’re reading this, the chances of that are slim—you communicate with other people every day. It might not be a verbal communication, but you’re constantly sending messages to those around you through body language, gestures, facial expressions, and even which way your eyes are looking, whether you’re consciously aware of it or not.
In the workplace, effective communication is paramount. If the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, it’s extremely difficult to get anything done. As the editor of my college newspaper, I learned this lesson many times over. We would run into situations where a writer would fail to deliver their article before deadline and not tell anyone, which caused ripple effects throughout the paper. Because that article was missing, the designers would have a giant hole to fill in the layout process, meaning more time was spent trying to fix that unnecessary problem, meaning copy-editors had less time to look over the other pages of the paper, and before you know it, we would go to print with a glaring typo on the front page.
One person not communicating properly could cause problems in a totally different part of the process. That being the case, it pays to teach your entire team the value of effective communication, and a great way to do that in a uniform way is through eLearning courses.
Here are 3 things you might include in such a course:
What is effective communication?
No hints or passive-aggressive notes. Say what you need to say and make it as clear as possible what you want or need. In the business world, it’s imperative that people speak up in person (when possible) and in plain language, instead of hiding behind a text message or an anonymous but strongly-worded sticky note.
Keep your conversational partner in mind and put things into terms they will understand. That isn’t to say you act patronizing, but take care that your message lands in the way you intended it. If you send an assignment to someone via email, don’t assume that they’ve read it and taking care of things. Get a response confirming that they got your message and try more than one avenue of communication, if necessary.
Clarify with the other party that you’re both on the same page. Don’t take it for granted that they’ll know what you mean. For instance, if you were to tell a graphic designer that you wanted a “rustic” look on a project, you might want to clarify what you mean by that. To you that might mean weathered reclaimed wood and wrought iron accents, while the designer is thinking about cowboys and horseshoes. You’re both correct about the definition of the word, but since you didn’t clarify what it means to you, a miscommunication takes place.