Sklover’s Monday Thought: “Effective Communication At Work – Tip #1”

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“How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but by how well we are understood.”

– Andrew Grove, Former CEO, Intel Corp.

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The most important principle in communication is expressed with simplicity and precision in this quote. Your words may be perfect, your grammar may be faultless, your sentence structure may be exemplary, your diction may be superb . . . but if your audience does not understand what you are saying, your communication is failed, and of little if any value to anyone. In fact, it could be downright dangerous.

If you truly want to communicate, whether in writing, by speech, using hand-gestures or by encoded message, your communication needs to be designed, tailored and presented with your audience member(s) first in mind, whether one person or one million, including your:

  1. Language: Does your audience understand the language you are using?
  2. Volume: Are you speaking so softly your audience cannot hear you?
  3. Word Choice: Are you using “jargon” only those in your particular field can understand?
  4. Order of Ideas: Is your message presented in a sensible sequence, or with a random and confusing disorder?
  5. Diction: Is your enunciation mumbled or garbled, as if you had the proverbial “marbles in your mouth?”

The daily application of this principle is something we all need to keep in mind. For example, this principle is among the highest priorities in the field of commercial aviation, where airplane safety is far too often compromised by failure of cockpit crew and air traffic controllers to communicate with each other effectively. In fact, miscommunication in that context is the primary cause of both on-ground collisions and in-flight disasters.

Working against effective communication in recent years are the growing use of texting, and the exploding use of acronyms and personal abbreviations in on-line communications. Here are 10, some of which you no doubt have used yourself, and some of which will likely bewilder you:

G2G = Got to Go
TOS  = Terms of Service
EOD  = End of Day
CPC  = Cost Per Click
LMK  = Let Me Know

BTAIM = Be That As It May
AFAIK  = As Far As I Know
HTML = Hyper Text Markup Language
ICYMI = In Case You Missed It
IFYP = I Feel Your Pain

Don’t take for granted that your audience understands what you intend to communicate. It may cost you (a) getting a different meal than the one you think you ordered, (b) closing that big sale you’ve been working on for months, or (c) your getting lost following directions you thought you clearly requested . . . and thus your enjoying tonight’s big show starting in 10 minutes . . . 50 miles away.

Communication is not effective unless your audience understands what you intend to communicate. Nothing else counts.

I hope you understand, and remember, this communication tip. If not, well, I will just keep trying harder to communicate better whenever and wherever I can do so.

This quote, both insightful and impactful, was sent to us by a new friend of our Blog resident in Singapore. It’s a long way off from our office, but that kind of distance we don’t mind, so long as we are “close” in spirit. Thanks to our new friend for your wonderful contribution.

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