Overcoming Communications Obstacles for Better In-Person & Cloud Collaboration

by Shirish Phatak on March 22, 2016

When it comes to collaboration, the ability to work well on any project or initiative comes down to the team members' communications abilities. If they are able to communicate effectively, the project will go well, stay within scope and budget, and most likely be done on time. If communications break down or aren't handled effectively, the project might never be complete at all, and if it is, will most likely never be everything it could or should have been. What are the best methods for overcoming communications challenges?

Choose the Right Medium for Your Message

Sometimes you have to opt for a personal conversation to be sure that your meaning is clearly understood and that the recipient(s) of the message has plenty of opportunities to ask questions and get clarification on complex or confusing issues.

Chat features, instant messaging, text messages, and other brief means of communications are fine for handling short, pointed communications. But if the communication stretches into more than three or four concise sentences, these mediums begin to loose their power. An email is excellent for longer notes and memos, and can be used to document something that needs to be filed for retrieval later. However, if there is any chance that the communication could be taken the wrong way, or if it's a subject that's difficult to convey with precision, or when the recipient(s) might have lots of questions, in-person or video communications are optimal. Choose the right medium for the messages you need to get out.

Keep It Simple

Have you ever heard or read "organizational language"? You know, the bureaucratic babble that readily flows out of people above a certain educational level or pay grade? They mistakenly believe that the endless double-speak and meandering endlessly around a simple message somehow makes them look smarter. It does not. Keep your messages clear, simple, and to the point. Not only will you avoid the misunderstandings that organizational mumbo jumbo causes, but your teammates will greatly appreciate your effective communication skills.

Listen as Much as You Speak (or Write)

Everyone wants to get what they have on their minds out there, but few people stop and really hear what's coming back at them. Do you really read and understand the emails you receive, or do you skim them so quickly that the real meaning is lost? Likewise, do you stop what you're doing and really hear the person speaking to you, or kind of hear enough to make a snap judgment about what you think he or she might be referring to? Make sure you're hearing and reading as carefully as you're speaking and writing your own communications.

Avoid Adding TMI (Too Much Information)

Similarly, the real message can easily get lost in incessant blubbering. Do you have a tendency to tell people ten times more than they need to know to understand what you're saying? For example, if you had a bright idea on the way to work this morning, your team members don't need to hear about what was on the radio, where you pulled over to jot down a note so you wouldn't forget, and how you almost missed your turn because you were so excited about the idea. Just tell them the idea, already.

Pick a Time When the Message Recipient Can Best Hear You

If your morning emails are getting a lot of silence in return, change the time of day you're sending your important communications. People might be more receptive during the afternoon. You might also find that certain days of the week are better for communications than other times of the week.

There are times when your messages are most likely to be heard, understood, and duly considered. There are also times when your communications are more likely to be skimmed over, brushed off, or utterly ignored. Determine when is the best time to send a message, how to best approach the subject, and when to wait until later to bring something up. For instance, have you noticed that sending an email in the morning leads to lots of .... nothing? People are usually snowed under with new emails in the morning, and things get overlooked easily. Try another time of day, such as right after lunch or just before quitting time, and see if those times deliver a better response.

Of course, the right tools always help when it comes to overcoming communications obstacles. See the overview of FAST™ to learn how it can empower your cloud collaboration and communications today.

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