I’m Not A Mindreader! by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

It is not uncommon for a leader to assume that he or she is very clear about communication only to find the message received was not at all what was meant.

Learning how to communicate clearly and concisely when speaking to anyone in the workplace is a skill that every leader needs to have. This skill not only benefits the speaker, but it also ensures the team understands what is expected, the message conveyed, and it takes the guesswork out trying to decode or decipher exactly what was meant.

The key elements to clear, concise communication include:

  • Verify the meaning of jargon – technical terms or industry jargon may not be clear to all members of the team. When using a term, slang, acronym, abbreviation, or alternate label for anything, be sure to take the time to define the term the first time it is used.
  • Make sure people understand the end goal – as much as possible, provide employees and team members with a big picture of any project or goal. If people understand the desired end result, there is less confusion about what needs to happen to get there.
  • Encourage questions – all leaders should encourage team members to ask questions and seek clarification if they are unsure. This should not be seen as a weakness or a lack of attention or focus but as an important part of the communication process. When team members feel they can ask questions without being targeted for negativity or comments, they provide valuable feedback on the clarity of your communication.
  • Be consistent – the more consistent the leadership message, the less likely there is for confusion. When leaders are constantly going from one strategy or goal to another, the team and employees are more likely to be confused and to have a lack of understanding of what is expected.
  • Talk one-on-one with the team – talking one-on-one with the team is an important way to build a personal rapport and a sense of trust and understanding. This helps the team member to reach out for clarification without feeling she or he is talking to an unknown person in the organization.
  • Double-check any written messages – short text messages or even emails can be confusing if there is a word out of place or new information that is not explained. Before hitting the send button, be sure to check the information is logical, complete, and free from errors.
  • Ask for input and solutions – including the team in ideas, discussions, brainstorming, and creating solutions fosters a better understanding of the project or the process.

Clear communication should be an ongoing goal for anyone in leadership roles. There is always something to improve upon to ensure you are getting your message across in the way it was intended.