Over-communication. We all know what it is – you feel in the emails, calls, bulletin board notices, and blog posts (ahem). You are either on high alert to absorb way too much information or have shut yourself off completely – delete, delete, delete. And then you spend time crafting an email you need your colleagues to read . . . and they don’t because they’re experiencing the same problem.
We need to communicate to succeed, but effective communication and over communication are easily muddled in our fast-paced, high-volume work environments. We all think we have the Most Important Thing to communicate – and it might be to us, but we have to understand that our coworkers have their own Most Important Thing.
It’s not an easy solution, but here are a few pieces of advice to get on the road to more effective communication:
Don’t Be Part of the Problem
Do you need to send five separate emails or can you just schedule 20 minutes with a coworker to go through the important points? Better yet – pick your most important priority and focus your energy on that.
Set Expectations for Your Own Time
You can’t shut down completely, but you need to respect your own work and recognize that spending hours answering emails is probably hurting your productivity. Scheduling an hour a day for this (depending on your responsibilities) can ensure that emails get answered but you aren’t pulled away from work that requires your focus. If it’s so urgent that it requires an immediate response, you can bet that person will find a faster way to contact you.
Have Less, More Efficient Meetings
While brainstorm sessions are tempting, they usually just waste time. Meetings should have a clear purpose with the expectation that participants come prepared. Stop scheduling hour or even half hour meetings. See if you can make 15-minute meetings work.
Communication Starts at the Top and Depends on the Bottom
This means that if leadership is not bought into effective communication, it’s going to be very difficult to make it a grassroots effort. However, without the buy-in of managers and employees the communication will be equally ineffective. Each company will have it’s own take on effective communication, but ultimately it should be a transparent system that places value on all departments and employees.
Maybe the solution is a software, or strengthening company culture, or just getting organized . . . but whatever the solution is, it should be on your mind. We don’t have to live a over-communicated over-stressed work life and let our colleagues do the same. Investing time in communication now will ultimately lead to a more productive, happier workday.
What do you do to foster effective communication in your workplace?
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