Have you ever had a conversation with someone or sent an email that may not have been interpreted the way that you intended it to?
I have. In fact, in face-to-face conversations I tend to have issues with my level of sarcasm. I often hear, “I can never tell if you’re being serious or not.” In which case, I giggle to myself and then explain that I am indeed simply being sarcastic.
I bring this up to emphasize the fact that communication is a two-way street, and that in order to be sarcastic with someone or to simply send a normal toned email, text message or make a phone call you must know how to specifically communicate with your intended audience. We all know that jokes don’t go over well if someone doesn’t have a clue what you’re talking about…
Back in high school we all learned about the Two-way communication model with the sender, receiver, verbal and non-verbal messaging types, but since we originally studied that way back in the day, things have changed. Technology, telecommuting and other scenarios have taken communicating to a whole other level; making something as seemingly simple as communication extremely challenging.
In the 1960’s, Professor Albert Mehrabian established a statistic for the effectiveness of face-to-face communication, suggesting, “interpersonal communication is 7 percent verbal, 38 percent vocal and 55 percent facial”.
Those are some crazy statistics! So for those of you who tend to not be able to control some of your facial expressions, you must learn. This is especially important with public speaking, and this would be why you may want to practice in front of a mirror before you deliver any kind of speech, because if you are standing up at the podium slouching and sad-faced while giving a motivational speech, I’m pretty sure that your intended message will not be received in the way that you had planned.
Taking this topic back into an office environment, I write all of this to tell you to make sure that you get to know your employees. Take some time to talk to them and understand what type of communication they prefer, get to know their background, culture, etc. Understand that there are many barriers that can hinder a message from being received as intended; including physical (music, noisy group of co-workers, etc.), psychological (hunger, stereotypes, etc.), perceptual (perception of meaning), and experiential (cultural misconceptions and attitudes).
Getting to know the people who you work with in person, or via Skype or whatever you prefer will help for you to understand each other and will cutback on communications issues in the office.
And well, if you’re still having issues with communication, you can always rely on the “emotional spellcheck for email,” ToneCheck.