Face it. We have a lot of demands on our time. Do you ever try to take some shortcuts? I know I do. There are some areas in life that works well taking shortcuts – maybe use simpler recipes, or find a shorter route to work. But, whatever you do,
Don’t take shortcuts when you communicate.
It may seem easier or faster, but taking shortcuts when we communicate can cause bigger problems that suck up a lot more time later.
In our quest to be efficient, and hurry along, we can make embarrassing mistakes. In a business setting mistakes can harm your credibility and reputation. At home, the stakes may be different – and maybe even higher.
Don’t waste your precious time. Spend it communicating well.
1) Proof every type of written correspondence before you hit send.
Don’t wait to learn this lesson the hard way. Look for spelling errors that may not be picked up in spell check, because some words will fool you – so be careful! I learned this lesson the hard way when I sent out my first solo press release and misspelled the word “public”. Spell check didn’t warn me of a missing “l” and it was an embarrassing mistake that still haunts me.
Also, be aware of common grammatical errors and take time to fix them. Some of the most common grammatical errors are using “your” vs. “you’re” and other apostrophe misuse. Another is not punctuating accurately or using and inconsistent voice (I/he/she/they).
Bonus tip: When sending out really important correspondence, have someone other than you proof and edit it. Many times we don’t see our own small mistakes, but a new pair of eyes will.
2) Rehearse your communication.
If you are going to have a hard conversation with someone, think through your strategy and rehearse your words. Take time to be calm and approachable – don’t ever rush a difficult conversation. It will not turn out well.
Make sure your tone is respectful. Always. And, focus on the issue, not the person.
3) Take time to listen actively.
Don’t multi-task, avoid distractions and stay focused. Ask clarifying questions and show that you are listening – by your tone, eye contact, head nodding, etc.
4) Make sure that others understand what needs to happen next.
Whether you are communicating in writing or in person, make sure you are clear in what your expectations are. Do you want a response? Do you want something to happen? Be clear in your expectations the first time you communicate. You may save hours stuck in an email conversation or avoid a serious misunderstanding. That really will save some time in the long run!
No shortcuts! Take time to communicate well!
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.
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