The best thing about writing a blog is also the worst thing about writing a blog.

My level of communication is laid open for the world to see. The world might see it and marvel at it {spoiler alert: they don’t}; the world might read it and have more questions than answers. While I am more often sure of the latter than the former, I keep writing. That is because I plan on improving my communication. And the only way I know for sure to do that is to push through until the uncomfortable gives way to the comfortable.

You need to improve your communication when:

An Idea Retold

Surreal, maybe. But when someone restates a thought you already put out there and is received differently than you, something is going on. It isn’t always flattering to hear your ideas repeated back to you, but it is always informative. You either do not have the authority in the current group to offer divergent ideas or you are not communicating your idea clearly the first time. You can independently work on the later. In order to clearly communicate your ideas repetition may be the key. During a meeting strive to say as closely as possible the same thing three times.The more familiar others are with your ideas the more accepting of them they are. When another person in the meeting can predict what you are going to say, they are attributing that idea to you.

Additionally, consider if it is even necessary for you to receive credit. It may be natural to want the acknowledgement, but would you rather make your idea happen or receive credit? Sometimes it is easier to get stuff done when someone else takes up your idea as his/her own. The added bonus, since this is “not your idea” but you are still making to work it happen you appear a team player to the group. Maybe that will help them hear you next time.

Confusion as Feedback

Improve your Communication

As soon as you send out the email, you start getting questions. email is kind in that way, it provides immediate feedback on confusion you create. How many other forms of communication do you put out which generate confusion over clarity from which you have no feedback?

emails are meant to be proofread until clear to many recipients. Accept length over lack of information. Use text features in emails; headings, bold feature, lists can all clarify and guide the recipients.

Meeting agendas are an opportunity to guide conversations by hierarchy, placement relative to other ideas/concepts, and the portion of the agenda an idea occupies. To craft an agenda is the craft the meeting itself.

The secret of avoiding confusion as feedback is to consider as many points of view as possible when crafting any communication. It helps to have multiple people talking through possible points of confusion on behalf of the audience. Once you know your audience you can work backward to deliver an understandable message based on their background knowledge and guide them toward your ideas.

Organizing isn’t Enough

When you find yourself organizing and reorganizing again, maybe it is time to start from scratch? Consider that the content itself may be inherently confusing. Instead, how can you simplify the information? Consider changing all words to the sense tense. Consider using smaller words. Consider formatting into a list for clarity.

When do you realize you have to improve your communication?