How often do we check that what we think we said was actually what the other person heard? I imagine for most people the answer would be we don’t, we just assume that they have understood what we were saying. It is an absolute sin for communication professionals not to put in place checks to ensure that the messages being sent were the same ones that were heard.
I have been as guilty as most people for not checking that what I am saying is clearly understood. That is when we make assumptions that people know what we were talking about and if they need to take action they will. We all know the story about the army sending messages ending with ‘send three and four pence we are going to a dance’!
It isn’t just when we are actioning work or developing a communication campaign that thinking through our communication is important. We should be thinking about it on a daily basis. When we draft the email we should be reading for a second time before hitting send. Then we should be ensuring a follow up to clarify the message was understood. Often the message is sent with us only focused on what we want to achieve, and not considering the recipient. We need to put ourselves in their shoes, and make that a regular part of our thought process.
When we have face-to-face communication the situation is less complicated and that is because we can ask questions to check the message was clear, and there is also a huge amount that is being said within the body language. Sometimes too much may be said through the body language!
We are all getting busier and busier and trying to do more and more during our working day that actually, thinking about what we do, the words we use, how we communicate, and what we say is not on our minds. It needs to be. Tomorrow I will be checking what I say and how it is heard.