Do you want to know why communication in the workplace sucks? Recently I was conducting leadership development training with a group of front line managers. We were working on setting achievable goals. Time after time, we recognized the lack of effective communication as a key obstacle to achieving goals. Over the last year, while conducting seminars, I’ve asked audiences their biggest business challenge. From multi-billion dollar organizations to a ten team member small businesses the resounding answer has been…communication. Why is that?

Why Communication in the Workplace Sucks

We don’t listen

We have become an impatient society. If an answer isn’t forthcoming in a matter of seconds, we close our minds, begin thinking about we’re going to say and interrupt the speaker.

We don’t give our full attention

Whether it’s an email, text, call, or face-to-face our attention is nearly always divided. We’ve been sold the myth of multitasking and bought it lock, stock, and barrel. Not giving others our undivided attention isn’t multi-tasking—it’s rude.

We’re too busy to take the time to organize communications

With so much on our plates and so much expected of everyone, many don’t take the time to organize activities. Too many people believe they can’t afford the time to plan, when it fact, planning saves time and mistakes—which costs time. To-do lists help initiatives from getting lost and pushed aside. Checklists help ensure we share proper and complete information to everyone who needs it.

We don’t talk about what media to use

Text, Email, phone, social media, or hand written note, each has its place. It’s important that folks share their expectations of communication media. For example, if you hate voice messages and don’t open them—tell others.

We use the wrong media

For example, a long multiple subject correspondence may be better suited to a phone or face-to-face conversation rather than text or email. An easy example, of using an inappropriate format would be terminating someone’s employment by email.

We don’t read entire correspondences

We’ve become so used to scanning articles such as blog posts and social media, that we seldom read entire correspondences. Try this experiment. Send an email to a co-worker or friend with two totally different topics and questions. Do they answer both questions?

We don’t check understanding

We assume people know what we mean without checking for miscommunication. Instead of checking understanding with follow-up questions we “hope” people know what we’re saying.

Do You Want to Improve Communication?

If so, it starts with you. Let me ask you something? Did you read this entire post or scan it? Most people read at a rate of 250-300 words per minute. This post should take the average English language reader less than two minutes, but many don’t believe they have two minutes to spare. If you want to improve communication, begin with time management. Allow yourself the time to talk, think, listen, and ask. Quit dividing your attention among multiple tasks, and think about the best way to share information. How do you rate your communication skills?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash