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Improving Communication

You can improve your success in everything you do with better communication. If you can't communicate, you can't get what you want. If you misinterpret a communication you could lose out on an opportunity. Communication is key. However, many of us have felt misunderstood. I will admit to having read a text message or an email incorrectly (usually due to missing information). To help you improve your communication I offer the following three tips:

1. If it's complicated, call or talk in person

If it takes you more than 140 characters via text, or, it takes you more than five lines in an email, you should think about speaking to the person, either on the phone or face or face. We all know that speaking in person or on the phone takes more time. However, if you send a long, complicated message, or a short message lacking information, that person will have to text or email you back. You might have multiple emails or several text messages before you finally get the information you need to understand the message completely. This could take much more time than if you spoke the first time. I know it is easy to send a quick text or email, but stop and think if a phone call will suffice.

2. Ask for more information

If a communication makes you mad or upset and it comes from a loved one or someone you respect - you might be interpreting the message incorrectly. We have TONS of ways to communicate, text, email, social media and of course talking, whether on the phone or in person. Many people do NOT communicate in person and fewer talk on the phone. It is easy to send a quick text message or an email and sometimes these messages are incomplete and can be misinterpreted. If you get a message or email that makes you frustrated or mad, stop, relax and ask for more information. Perhaps something was left off or you read it wrong. If you ask, you are more likely to get good information going forward. Let me share an example. I had a family member call me very upset about a text message from a friend. This family member vented to me about the message before he replied. I suggested he call the person and when he called he realized he misinterpreted the message. He assumed something that was not true (because of missing information in the original text message). He was later glad that he did not reply because he would have upset his friend. If you get a text or email that upsets you, stop, relax and decide if you should call or ask for more information before you respond.

3. Be direct and be specific

All communication, whether text message, email, or speaking on the phone or in person should convey exactly what you want in the first sentence. After that you can go into more detail. If you don't tell me what you want (I need a favor, I am calling about the Johnson account, I need a copy of the bill, etc.), but rather start telling me why you want this or how this will help you, your message might be interpreted incorrectly. For example, I send you a text saying "I think we have too many bulbs" or "why did another set of bulbs get delivered today?" This could be interpreted incorrectly. If my text says "can you check the Johnson account to see how many bulbs need to be installed? I have to check my deliveries" that is much more direct. Another example would be an email saying "Can you help me with the advertisement for the flyer that's due next week" If I am really busy at work and if I think you want me to do all of the work I could say no. However, if your message is more direct and more specific then you could get a different result. What if your email said: "I am almost done with the advertising flyer, can you proof this for me tomorrow and give me your feedback? I want to make the final edits by the end of the week" that lets me know I only need to proof the flyer and you have a better chance of getting a yes, instead of a no.

In the future before you communicate, decide if you should speak in person, rather than text or email. If you get a message that upsets you, ask for more information, and finally, when you send out a message or speak to someone, be direct and be specific. If you follow these tips, you can improve your communication to be successful in everything that you do.

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