Lately I’ve seen many people getting stuck with problems to pass away the message they want to. It’s always been a truth. But since there’s too many examples that I could see lately, I decided to give priority to this article idea.
The main problem of the biggest part of people I know have, is the lack of context and how they structure an idea. It doesn’t matter whether they are giving a speech, talking to someone, or writing an email the problem is the same. We all know that communication has been the main cause for projects failure. This is SO REAL that it’s very easy to find good quality content being published frequently. One good example is this article from CIO which published an article giving some advice about common mistakes. Number 1 and 5 regard communication.
Richness of each interaction
From best to worst:
- Face-to-face conversation: you can say your stuff and check if the other side got it, and get a feedback on real time.
- Video conference: same as above, but with less clarity on the other side perceptions and reactions.
- Telephone: same as above, but you can’t see people’s body and face reactions.
- Email: you can write, but you won’t get a feedback (at least not real time).
- Broadcast communication (videos, folders, etc): it will be very hard for you to get a feedback.
When you are talking to someone
First of all, the what is important, but it’s all about how it’s done.
Whenever you want to talk to someone, what your mouth says is less than 10% of your message. 38% is said by your face, and 55% by your body.
So if you are talking to someone and that is important, of course you must prepare your speech. Do you need to convince a customer that your decision is better than theirs? Let’s try to organize it according to the three steps above shown:
Your actual speech
Prepare A LOT. The more you get prepared, the easier will be to accomplish the next two things. Let’s say you are having a technical discussion: try to look by everyone else’s optics to be sure that all opinions were considered. Try to be the devil part and imagine the questions that may appear from the pickiest person you know. Do you have a colleague or a boss that always question everybody about everything? Maybe this guys can be useful. So, the most important part is to prepare yourself as much as you can, because if you know everything about that scenario you will be very comfortable to argue about the subject.
Now that you know everything that must be said, it’s time to be confident. People are more likely to believe in a message from someone they judge trustworthy. You don’t like to be approached by a beggar, right? Your appearance count many points here. Also, if you are showing happiness in your face, you will get people’s empathy easier. But take care and don’t laugh for everything, people can think you are making jokes on work time.
As above, the main thing is that people believe in what they can see. So you are your image, not your thoughts. Your body must be confident at the same time your message is clear and your face is calm. Worst time for leg shaking, to nail, to keep look at everyone’s face to check if they are approving or not. How to be that confident? Preparing yourself A LOT. Since you already are well contextualized with the subject, and your face is calm, focus on being clear and be confident.
Ok, you couldn’t find the person you wanted to ask or say something and will have to use an asynchronous communication way. Let’s make it VERY clear. You just CAN NOT send an important message by email and assume the other side got it and read it exactly the same way you wrote it. It’s never gonna happen.
But let’s say you want to send a report which is really bad for your customer. It must be formal (using email), but it also must be said very clearly. The perfect way to do is: write the email, check it a bunch of times, then find a way to call the person on the other side. Then TELL him the whole email, check for his feedback, change anything that he may disagree (according to the reality of course), and then you send it.
But how to write that email?
- What’s the purpose? What do you want to happen after when the other side read this email?
- Who will receive it? Think of you, being they, and reading it. What they will think of each sentence?
- Use short sentences. People are lazy. Don’t write big paragraphs. They will stop thinking at the middle of the big one, and won’t get the rest of the message.
- Hard words: avoid them. People know you are smart. People are lazy.
- Don’t assume people know everything: it’s you who have all the context for that email. Everybody must be on the same page. If you are in doubt, explain.
- Be clear: split your thoughts like below.
- Introduction: I’m here to talk about challenge X.
- Justification: we should talk about challenge X because of Y.
- Argumentation: show your point.
- Conclusion: what to do next?
Remember: you are not writing a book. Each one of the points above can be done in one sentence, as instance, except the argumentation.