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    April 17, 2023

    Facilitating Effective Communications

    There are many times in our careers when we will not understand something. We may misinterpret what is being said. We may read a policy or about a new initiative and not understand how it applies to us as an individual. No company sets out to miscommunicate, yet few companies spend time understanding if their communication style is, in fact, clarifying or leaving too many people confused and frustrated.

    In the last few years, inclusion in the workplace has been very focused on diversity and inclusion challenges, but inclusive communication applies to everyone, not just a specific ethnic background, gender, or age.

    It’s important for every organization to have their own voice and style reflective of their company's unique culture. There is no one right way. However, when introducing new benefits, any kind of legal notice, or even in the context of health and well-being, communications need to not only meet the company standard, but they must also be clearly understood by everyone in the workforce.

    Communications come in many forms. They can be formal notices, a speech given by a senior leader, an email, a text, a short video, a posted policy, a workshop, information shared at a meeting, or an informal conversation.

    Regardless of your communication mode, The National Society of Leadership and Success gives us the 7 Cs of Communication as a guideline:

    • Clear Use short, simple sentences while speaking or writing. The aim is to share your thoughts and ideas with utmost clarity. 
    • Concise Your message should be as short and simple as possible. Get to the point as quickly as possible.
    • Concrete Using concise and focused language can reduce confusion.
    • Correct Grammar, punctuation, and proofreading are important, alongside fact-checking and accuracy of the information. Consider having someone read through any communication before you send it out. No matter how good we are, we can all make mistakes.
    • Consideration Always keep the person or group in mind. What’s the best method to communicate with them? What words should you use? What’s their mindset?
    • Complete Though you want to be concise, make sure that you provide all of the necessary information.
    • Courteous It is very important be respectful, especially when communicating feedback. The goal is for everyone to understand what has been communicated.

    Producing and sending our information is one side of communication. To be a better communicator, there are active ways we can get better.

    Listen. The first step to being a better communicator is learning how to be a better listener. In an information-overloaded world, slowing down to actively listen can seem uncomfortable. However, that small investment of time can help you understand ways in which something is being heard and understood and when it is not. If this is an area you think you need to practice, consider using the power of the pause. Stop yourself from explaining if the communication isn’t good. It may sound dramatic, but you can be speaking the best French in the world, but it makes no difference if the person receiving the message doesn’t speak French. The same may applies to technical language, legal language, financial language, or any other jargon.

    Questions. One of the best ways to communicate is to ask questions. We don’t always do this if we are in a leadership position, or highly stressed, or have a tight deadline, but learning how and when to ask questions can improve communications. A thoughtful question can signal a desire for feedback. It can also help you avoid someone feeling they are being overlooked or that they are not valued. These don’t have to be complex questions. Here are some to get you started:

    • What do you think of this idea, policy, or approach?
    • How do you think this applies to you and your team?
    • Does this make sense to you?

    Nonverbal Communication. This is typically easier to see in person versus on a Zoom or virtual call, but we can take advantage of nonverbal communication to interface in better ways. Looking for facial and body cues can be very important, but it’s also important to understand the person. Are they smiling and/or generally relaxed? Not everyone smiles a lot,  but that doesn’t mean they are unhappy. Is someone avoiding eye contact? Are they alert and engaged or withdrawn? It’s also important to understand our own style of nonverbal communication to make sure we are sending the right cues.  

    Effective communication sometimes requires practice. The good news is that anyone can get better. If you’ve run into communication roadblocks in the past, using the 7 C’s and practicing can make your communications more effective and better received. 


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