Teams are made up of all kinds of people. Some get right to the point while others like to elaborate. Some incessantly follow up and always want the last word while others only respond when the issue is absolutely pressing. Amidst communicating over the phone, through email, and in person, team progress can get held up, misinterpreted, or altogether lost.
Think your team might be in the middle of a communication conundrum? Check out these 3 types of communication barriers and how to overcome them.
Trying to elicit a response from someone who isn’t holding up their end of the conversation can be one of the most frustrating challenges in communication. If all talk has ceased from the other person, there are two strategies we recommend to get their attention again.
1. Ask more questions. If you tend to write long, paragraph-esque emails, it’s likely that the other person simply isn’t reading them. Try chopping down the content of your messages and make sure that what you do keep is purposeful. What you need from the other person should be clearly stated in the form of succinct requests.
2. Pick up the phone and call them. If they still aren’t getting back to you, the best approach is to talk to them over the phone. If you’re accustomed to communicating exclusively by email, you’ll be surprised by the sheer number of emails you can preempt through just one quick call, saving both of you time!
While we all like to hear others speak in our preferred communication style, that can’t always be the case. If you know you’re going to be on a project with someone that you don’t see eye to eye with, the chance for miscommunication is high.
Whether you’re already up in arms about who’s doing what or just want to prevent future confusion, try these tips to keep the communication pathways clear of inconsistencies:
1. Practice active listening. Making sure that you’re hearing what your fellow team member is requesting or explaining is crucial to preventing miscommunication. The best tactic to practice is to echo back what they’re saying in your own words to show that you understand.
- “You’re going to do the report, I’ll send it to Bob, and then we’ll reconvene to discuss.” This gives them the chance to confirm or deny. “Yes, that’s correct” or “No, let me explain this in another way.”
2. Remember to follow up. Solidify that you understand the game plan and the direct action items that you and other team members are responsible for by following up on commitments in another way.
- Do this in an email cc’ing Bob to make sure that he’s aware of when he can expect the report, over the phone if need be, or both.
Overcommunication is not the type of communication barrier that most people think of first. But if your direct reports start looping you into a project more than seems necessary, a red flag should go up. Overcommunication can be caused by a multitude of things, but at the heart of it all is unclear expectations. Here’s what you can do:
1. Ask to be removed from the conversation. Email the team member who’s overcommunicating and let them know you’re good with being removed from the chain.
- “Sounds like you’ve got this handled, so you can take me off.”
2. Set up parameters for when to be informed. A big part of staying connected and being a resource that your team can count on requires setting up touchpoints for them to follow. These give them specific direction to work with and help to prevent overcommunication.
- “Let me know when you’re finished with the first set of numbers and we’ll set up a meeting to discuss.”
Start a Communication Conversation
Communication truly touches every aspect of business. If you find that you’re fending off the communication issues above more often than you’d like to be, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate your efforts.
Could you or your employees benefit from improving their communication skills? Get started by downloading Arden’s free interpersonal and communication skills eBook!