How much time do you spend trying to think of what you’ll say? Most Americans spend the time they should be listening thinking about their next move or their next argument. We’re so focused on ourselves, that we forget the most important part of communication – the transfer of meaning. Author John Reh’s article (n.d.) titled “Getting My Point Across” (http://management.about.com/cs/communication/a/GetPointOver702.htm) states that it’s more important to concentrate on what you want the other person to hear vs. what you want to say.
How can you possibly control that; you might wonder. After all, I tell my kid not to bounce the ball, and all he hears, is “bounce ball.” This example goes to show that crafting your message is crucial. What if I’d said, “take the ball outside.” With this message, considered from my listener’s point of view, I might get better results because I know my listener, my kid. Any excuse to go outside and he’s there. The process is not that different when you are talking to peers.
First, get to know them. Consider his or her communicating style preference. Does he prefer a lot of facts; is she the type that wants you to get to the bottom line; should you start with a question about the family; do you need to start out with an attention grabber? These styles are four buckets that fit the general tendencies of most people.
Second, what channel will you use? Contrary to popular culture, email and text are not the best ways to get your meaning across, but they are the easiest. Opt for as close as you can get to face to face whenever possible so that you can add important no-verbal signals to your words. That might be Skype, the phone, or the good old fashioned walk over to the desk method.
Finally, communicating with others is not about proving you’re smart, it’s about being smart. Don’t use “big words” or jargon to show off what you know. If you are talking to the accounting department, don’t use acronyms common to your work in marketing. Be straightforward and say exactly what you mean. I call this the, “Get in and get out” method. If I mean sales are decreasing every three months, that’s what I’ll say. If I’m unhappy with the response time from shipping I’m not going to spout policy and jargon. I’m going to say that I want to work with shipping to improve response time so we can keep our customers happy. As Reh (n.d.) says in his article, “If you want your service department to handle more calls per day, tell them that. Don’t tell them they need to “reduce the time interval between customer-interface opportunities” (para. 7). Get in, get out, done.
Step outside your head and see from the perspective of your audience to be more successful in transferring your message.