Communication Pitfalls to Avoid
“Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another.” —Carl Sagan
Welcome to your final lesson.
You’ve learned so much in the last nine days. Today, we’ll go over communication pitfalls to be aware of, and you will learn tools on how to avoid them.
Shooting from the Hip
It is easy to respond to someone without thinking, especially if you are upset or angry. The key to effective communication is to stop yourself and be more thoughtful.
You can say something like, “That’s an interesting point. Let me think about it.”
A moment of silence helps you formulate the best response and makes you appear wiser and gives you time to evaluate the effect of your words on the other person.
Avoid hitting the send button without evaluating the content of the message to ensure that it covers all the key points and is free from error.
Good communication—both oral and written—is clear and concise. Try identifying the most important information you want to communicate and use it to evaluate everything else. If it supports the main point, keep it; if it doesn’t, eliminate it.
Remember that people rarely read to the end of a written communication, so you must get to the point early on the page. With oral communication, the more you talk, the less that people listen.
The key way to avoid rambling is to focus on the key points.
Not Considering the User Experience
Pay attention to how the person will use the information you are communicating. Do they just have to read it and then file it, or do they have to take any action? Make sure you communicate this to them so they know what to do.
If you’re explaining how to do something, you need to communicate it in a way that helps the reader or listener take the action. You must logically and clearly take them through the process step by step.
Jumping to Conclusions
Everyone has biases and beliefs that affect all areas of their lives, from decision making to communication. The more you understand your biases and beliefs, the easier it is to notice when they color your communication or judgment.
Practice listening objectively and focusing on observable facts rather than opinions and assumptions. Pay attention to your language when speaking and writing to make sure they are free of phrases and words that negatively characterize others or that rely on stereotypes.
Step 1. Bring mindfulness to every communication, and focus on what you need the communication to do.
Step 2. Ensure that everything you include in a communication is necessary and contributes to its effectiveness.
Step 3. Practice your speaking skills in comfortable environments, and ask trusted friends and colleagues to give you feedback.
Step 4. Find someone with strong writing skills, and ask them to review your written documents. Pay attention to what they correct and recommend.
Congratulations on completing the course. I appreciate your participation and hope you learned how to improve your speaking and writing skills.
Another course by Patricia Haddock
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