Effective communication is difficult, even in the best of circumstances. In today’s workplace, it can feel darn near impossible. If you are feeling frustrated, you’re not alone. Here are some key reasons why things are so complicated, and a few strategies to help.
Your workforce could very well include 20-somethings just starting out, 60-somethings planning for retirement, and every possible combination in between. Add in today’s rapid rate of change and technology developments and you’ve got a regular recipe for miscommunication. Diversity within your audience requires diversity in your message and a range of communication styles.
Key takeaway: Different populations take in and react to information differently. One generation’s memo is another generation’s Snapchat.
Diversity in Learning and Life
We all learn differently, which means we all need to be communicated with in different ways. Some people are visual learners, some are auditory. Others are tactile and need to interact with the message. Diversity also plays a key role, with many companies embracing groups that may have previously been left out. If you have Veterans and/or folks with PTSD on your staff, you may need to approach group trainings differently. You’ll also want to be sensitive to minority groups and with the words you choose.
Key takeaway: No one way of communicating is best for everyone in your group. You’ll need a variety of messaging tactics— and a healthy dose of sensitivity. Choose your words and methods carefully.
Competition for Attention
We are constantly being bombarded with messages. E-mails. Phone calls. Text messaging. IM. TV. Video. Social Media. Maybe even snail mail. You get the idea. Making sure your message gets through the clutter is tough. You’ll have to find ways to make your message stand out and be directly relevant to your audience in order to be heard.
Key takeaway: Make your messages direct, relevant and clear. Let your employees know how you plan to communicate with them and then follow through. Use subject lines to your advantage.
Lack of Time
Businesses are leaner now than ever, and we’re all trying to do more with less. Sometimes much less. Perhaps ridiculously less. The reality is that we are rarely able to slow down enough to communicate effectively. To get your desired message to the right people, you have to make it a priority.
Key takeaway: Plan your communication strategy so everyone knows what to expect. Then, take the time to communicate thoughtfully and with purpose.
Recognizing your distinct challenges and making sure your communication is purposeful, strategic, and well-designed will take an investment of time. But if you don’t have to constantly re-iterate, change or correct misperceptions about your message, you just may end up with a few spare minutes at the end of the day. And that’s something everyone can get behind.