Face it. We have a lot of demands on our time. Now, more than ever, it is temping to take shortcuts in order to save time. Most of us are in the midst of learning new skills, working while babysitting, and trying to get multiple things done with a lot of distractions.
There are some areas in life that work well when taking shortcuts – finding a simpler recipe or a shorter route to work.
But shortcuts, no matter how busy you are, does not apply when any type of communication is involved.
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 fast and efficient, we can make embarrassing mistakes. In business settings, even virtual settings, mistakes can harm your credibility as well as your reputation. At home, the stakes may be different – and most likely even higher.
Don’t waste your precious time. Spend it taking the time to do your best to communicate well. Here are my top areas to remember to slow down and take the time to communicate 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 the necessary 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 an 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.
Don’t ever rush a difficult conversation. I guarantee it will not turn out as well.
If you’re planning to have a hard conversation with someone, think through your strategy and rehearse your words. Maybe even role play with someone else first. Make sure you take your time and remain calm, approachable and keep your tone is respectful. Focus on the specific issue at hand, not the person.
3) Take time to listen actively.
Not listening well is a huge time waster. It causes all kinds of miscommunication and misunderstandings.
Do not multitask when listening to someone. Do your best to avoid distractions and stay focused. Ask clarifying questions and show that you are listening through your use of tone, eye contact, head nodding, and other non-verbal communicators.
4) Make sure that others understand what needs to happen next.
Whether you’re communicating in writing or in person, make sure you are clear in what the expectations are. Do you want a response? Do you want something to happen? Is so, make sure you include that language.
Be clear in your expectations the first time you communicate. You may save hours being stuck in an unproductive email conversation or avoid a serious misunderstanding. It saves so much time in the end.
No shortcuts. Work on making good communication a habit by slowing down. You will save time if you take the time to communicate well the first time.
Do you find yourself wishing you could be a better communicator both at home and at work? Learn these skills and develop the self-confidence you need with my new online course, Communication Skills for Success. For any questions or to learn more, you can also contact me for a free 30-minute consultation.
Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach and expert in workplace communications. She is the author of 2 books on communication, and a newly published journal Intentional Gratitude.
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