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New Year’s Resolution: Really Connect-The-Dots

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”--  George Bernard Shaw.

I recently came across this quote in a book I’m reading and it really struck a chord since it’s cornerstone  to what we do --in and out of work-- on a daily basis. And even for those of us who have been in this business for decades, miscommunication still takes place.  It can go from the funny instance

to potentially business-ending situations. In fact, I was recently talking to a colleague who was pitching an account.  The presentation did not go well, my colleague thinks because the prospect had called us to just “review what we sent in” versus the client’s perspective, which was… “present your credentials and why you should go to the next step.”   Well… so who’s right?  It really doesn’t matter.  The reality is that if this interaction is important to us, the onus is on us to ensure that real communication has taken place.

Miscommunication can originate from misunderstanding what was said, not understanding at all or misinterpreting what the other person said -- usually at the expense of the conversation going right downhill.  The cost of miscommunications is way too high, resulting in project delays, false starts, lost business and even outright conflicts.

That’s why, now that that the time for New Year Resolutions is fast approaching, I’ve decided to be extremely focused: my ONE resolution this coming year, will be to ensure that -- in every interaction--  real communication has occurred.  Meaning, that I’m going to strive to connect the dots, every single time!

And in doing so, I reviewed all the best practices and advice we give our clients to ensure their communications are effective, so I can put them to practice on a daily basis:

1.     Understand our audience. This should be a no-brainer for us communicators, shouldn’t it?  Well, not  quite so.  Just ask me about some of my downhill conversations with my teenage son!  This year,  I’m making it a point to learn a few basketball analogies for basic parenting lessons…  I believe it will go a long way in terms of effectiveness!

2.     Be clear. Keep the message as simple as possible. Don't ramble or go on to a lot of extra details.

3.     Think before speaking. This way we focus on the issue at hand and have the time to organize our thoughts.

4.     Get his or her attention. There’s no way we can get our message across if we don’t have the other person’s attention.  We must ensure that the other person is actually listening.

5.      Organize our thoughts. Structure the best way to deliver the message to that particular person(s).

6.     Listen. Good listening is often more important than whatever we say.

7.     Don't assume. This is the most common presumption we tend to make and the most disastrous as well.  After years of painful lessons, I’ve managed to reduce assumptions to a bare minimum and, I’m happy to say… it results in much more effective communications.

8.     Understand body language. Since much of communication is non-verbal, we must pay close attention to body language cues.

9.     Be inclusive. This is one of our greatest pitfalls.  Seeing “us” against “them”, and therefore creating a wedge between us and our audience.

10.  Focus on the “want”. But more important than anything, is having a clear objective for every interaction. If we are clear about what should be the outcome--the “want”-- of every single communication, we  can ignore the “noise” around it and focus on our goal.

Hope  these tips have been helpful.  Off to good food, drinks and company….. See you next year, and let’s ensure our New Year Resolutions stick with us throughout 2012!

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