In a perfect world, all of our professional communication would go smoothly, with each of us saying exactly what we mean and being understood without a hitch. Unfortunately, no matter how much care and preparation you take with your professional communication skills, hiccups in business communication are inevitable. While these snafus may be unavoidable, how you handle them can make or break a professional relationship. Here are some strategies for keeping your professional communication on track even when miscommunications occur:
• If you sense that the person you’re speaking with is misunderstanding your message or that they aren’t quite following you, avoid over-explaining to compensate; it can cause more confusion and exacerbate the situation. While clarification or more information may be needed, you need to first have an idea of where the miscommunication lies. Often this can be determined with a simple invitation to your listener to ask questions. Take a moment and say something along the lines of, “Before I keep going, I just want to make sure we’re on the same page. Is there anything I can clarify?”
• On the other side of the coin, if you aren’t sure you fully understand your conversation partner, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Wait for a natural break in the other person’s speech and then ask for clarification. Even if you don’t have a specific question, you can always politely ask for more information that can help avoid misunderstandings. For example: “You said that performances weren’t quite what you expected this past quarter. Could you tell me a little more about what you mean by that?”
• If a misunderstanding has already occurred, take the time after the fact to analyze exactly what went wrong and how you can avoid the same mistake in the future. While miscommunications can be uncomfortable, they can almost always be turned into a learning opportunity.
Do you want to brush up on your professional communication skills? Give us a call and enlist the services of a professional speech and communication coach! At Corporate Speech Solutions, our team of corporate speech-language pathologists can help you reach your professional potential through strong, confident communication. Give us a call at 212-308-7725 or visit us on the web at www.corporatespeechsolutions.com. Don’t live in NYC? No problem! Our services are Skype ready, so Corporate Speech Solutions can help you improve your communication from anywhere in the world.