The biggest challenge of communication is dealing with miscommunication. Have you ever received an email that annoyed you and distracted you for hours, only to discover it wasn't a big deal at all? Well, then you know what I'm talking about.
When working collaboratively and with teams, communication is key. 🗝 Again, it's important to remember that what is simple and straightforward for you isn't always as easy for the person on the other end of a request. Think about how you can be clear and direct to make things happen and avoid wasting time.
Considerations for strong communication
Every work environment and team dynamic is going to be different. Let's consider a few ways we can ensure that we're communicating well with team members:
Whenever possible talk to people face-to-face. Human interactions are not only faster, but you'll likely resolve any issues more efficiently.
If you find yourself writing an email where you apologize for the length at the end, it's probably best to either rewrite it to be more succinct or hop on a call to iron things out.
Be aware of who should be included in communication. The worst feeling is when you think you've finished something, but then you have to completely redo it because a key person was left out of the conversation. Avoid awkward situations by figuring out who to include in the communication loop from the beginning.
Write for clarity. Using bullet points and short sentences can help. Sometimes inserting a visual can cut down on how much you need to write. You know the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words!
Clearly assign tasks. There should never be confusion regarding who is doing what. At the end of a meeting, you can always recap and clarify. Digital project management tools can also be used to document and track this.
Set reminders and follow up. There's a lot going on, so don't be afraid to check in with people you need information from. You can set automated reminders in a lot of the project management platforms. There are also tools like Boomerang that send reminder emails.
Never make assumptions. Situations change. Team members change. Projects merge. When in doubt, find out who you need to talk to in order to get the right information. You can always ask for clarification as well.
Pay attention to tone. Rushed responses happen. We're all guilty of it. It often can make our tone come off harsher than intended. How you say things matters. When you're on the receiving end of a less than friendly email or remark, remember that everyone is human and try not to take things personally.
Ask questions whenever you don't understand something. It's not a sign of weakness. It shows you're an engaged team member.
Using a chat tool to streamline communication
One of my favorite ways we communicate at OpenClassrooms is through Slack. It's a great tool which has helped cut down on the number of emails that clog my inbox. Instead, I can focus on having quick, informal conversations to resolve any questions or concerns right away.
Conversations are organized into different #channels to help you communicate your questions to the right people. Everyone on the channel can see the response, so chances are your questions are saving them them time too. Some companies may organize channels by departments, themes, or teams, while others may focus channels on each project. You can find out more about how Slack works here.
Strong communication is key in collaboration.
In-person communication is often the most effective (when possible).
Recognize that everyone has limited time, so before sending anything make sure you present it in a way that does not take a lot of energy or effort to process.
Make sure that all of the necessary key people are looped into communications from the beginning.
Write for clarity. Don't be afraid to recap to give context of where a project is at.
Don't be afraid to ask questions for clarification. Chances are others may have the same questions.
Watch your voice and tone when communicating to avoid any misinterpretations (which are more likely to happen over digital platforms than in person).
Slack is a great tool when used right to keep communication moving quickly.
Next, we'll explore great ways to keep up to date with what your team members are working on without taking a lot of time!