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5 Rules for Effective Communication

Here are some of the most common obstacles to successful communication and their solutions.

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While many of us face growing responsibilities in our professional and personal lives, office disaster looms. Inadequate and hasty communications prevail via email, text, and spam.

However, regardless of your profession, it is essential to become an effective communicator in your office. Here are some of the most common obstacles to successful communication and their solutions.

  1. Clearly state your objective, purpose, or goal.
    What result do you wish to achieve with your communication? What are the steps needed to obtain this outcome? Don't be afraid to answer these questions point blank in your exchanges and emails. Candor and directness will get you much further than confusion and obfuscation.

  2. Ensure that you've been heard.
    Because it can be hard to determine whether a client, coworker, or even superior has heard and absorbed your message, when possible, ask for a summary of your message or missive. Practice diplomacy and diligence.

  3. Separate fact and feeling.
    Some communication, no matter how innocent your intention, may be taken with emotional content. Choose your words carefully and don't be afraid to correct the misspeaks of others. As my mother often told me as a child, think before you speak.

  4. Be aware of language barriers in the newly diverse workplace.
    Many offices employ people whose first language is not English. Certain idioms and vernacular may not be understood in these cases. Be sensitive to these and similar road bumps.

  5. Get it in writing.
    If it's important, write it down. The worst and most common barrier to effective office communication is confusion or discrepancy over what was said. Memory is a tricky thing and should not be trusted alone. If it is essential, it should be recorded.

Finally, remember that stress decreases comprehension. Keep in mind that today's stressful and "do more with less" environment can be precarious to productivity. Clear communication, a little compassion, and conscientious clarification can go a long way to smooth sailing.

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