I get a lot of questions on communications from Quora. If you’ve got time and the inclination, it’s a great site to visit to “learn things” as the character, Dwayne Pride, on NCIS: New Orleans would say. Quora is a site dedicated to “be the easiest place to write new content and share new content from the web.” In short, it’s a great place to go to ask questions and get answers from anyone in the world.
Today’s query was right up my alley: What can I do to enhance the effectiveness of my communication?
So how would I answer this? Simple. I’d discuss making a plan. But I know that saying “plan” brings up a lot of issues for many folks. So I positioned it a little differently here, check it out:
I find that we have three questions we should ask ourselves before we try to communicate — whether written, oral or digital.
- Who do I need to talk to? This helps you define your audience and thus adjust your message. If you are talking to a colleague, for example, work jargon is a shorthand. But if you use the same language with a neighbor who doesn’t understand what you do, they’ll be lost.
- What do I need to say? This will help you hone in on your message. If you are communicating to get something done, you will focus on the tasks you want to complete. Whereas, if you are simply communicating to deepen a relationship, storytelling may be a better tactic.
- What do I want my communications partner to do? This helps you define the “call to action.” Sometimes, all you want is for the person to be aware or to listen. Sometimes you want a decision or an agreement.
So try this:
Before you text/email/FB/call/write/etc., pull out a piece of paper or a blank screen. Write out these questions and your answers. This will help you hone your style and make this kind of planning more habitual.
For example: I need to text my friend about dinner tonight.
- Who do I need to talk to? My friend (you can be specific and give a name too.)
- What do I need to say? Dinner will be at the downtown restaurant; reservations are at 7 p.m.
- What do I want them to do? Text back that they can make it.
Potential Text: Hey, I have reservations for tonight at 7. Made them at Dad’s Place on Main St. Can you still make it? Let me know.
It’ll become easier after you do this a few times for texts, emails, notes, etc. Try it on bigger projects like work presentations. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it gets with planning and practice.
Tell me, does this sound familiar? Practice is an important tool in improving any skill. This is just one exercise that can help make effective communication part of our everyday lives.