Sometimes communicating with other people causes more problems than it solves.
Take email and text messages, for example. We text and email so easily and frequently that we often put little thought into what we’re writing. It’s very easy to communicate without thinking.
And in addition to not thinking about what we’re writing, we have conversations with people through digital devices that don’t offer any non-verbal cues. These cues (tone of voice, facial expression, etc.) are necessary to interpret the message correctly.
When we don’t have the right conversational clues, chances are we accidentally create communication problems instead of solving them.
Take a look at this list and ask yourself if any of these six communication problems have happened to you.
In the past year, I have sent or received an email/text message that:
- I wasn’t sure was read or received
- Was confusing or unclear
- Caused bad feelings between people or departments
- Cost my organization money
- Hurt morale
- Delayed the completion of a project
Any of these sound familiar? If you use a computer or cellphone, chances are at least one of these communication problems has happened to you with email or text messages. So, now that we know that these problems often occur, what should we do to prevent them?
Here are three solutions.
1 - Inserting as many visuals as possible
The more visuals you can put into your message, the clearer your meaning will be (and the more friends you will keep because you didn’t accidentally offend them). Text-based messages lack non-verbal cues, which means that they can be easily misinterpreted. Videos, pictures, extra documents – any additional aids included in your message will lessen the potential for confusion and bad feelings.
2 - Using apps that track your messages
Typically, we have no idea whether or not someone got our message unless they respond back to us. And it’s frustrating not knowing if they read what we sent. If you have a communication tool that tracks your messages, though, you can see when your recipients opened your message and if they looked at each component (like if you also attached a video, picture, etc.). Even if your recipient doesn’t respond back with an actual message, it’s a relief to know that they got and read what you sent.
3 - Communicating the old-fashioned way
To be really sure that the potential for confusion and misunderstanding is as low as it can possibly be, don’t use email or text messages at all. Call your coworkers on the phone so they can hear your tone of voice. Or walk over to your employee’s desk in the next room and deliver your message face-to-face. (And burn a couple calories in the process.) Don’t rely on text-based messages to communicate your most important information.