Pursue What Matters
Episode 125: Communications 101
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
There’s a lot to be said about communication. But today I’m giving you communication 101. So the do’s and the don’ts of communication, what are the basics that you need to have in order to be successful? So this is the guide you’ve been waiting for.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:17
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So communication is something we do all the time. Everyone does it. So we should have it all figured out, right? Wrong. Communication is tough. It is one of the biggest issues that I deal with on a daily basis, not only as a psychologist, not only as a leader in my own organization, but certainly also as a leadership coach. And boy, it’s hard to get communication, right. It’s not so much that getting communication right is all that challenging. But here’s the trouble. The minute you add humans to the mix, things get complicated. Boy, oh, boy, isn’t that true? According to the website, theletters.org. They say “communication is the first thing we learn as a child. But as we grow older, it becomes the hardest thing to do.” Boy, isn’t that true? Communication can feel very complicated. Tennessee Williams put it quite bluntly, “why is it so damn hard for people to talk?” So there are lots of reasons it’s very challenging to sometimes communicate effectively. I’ll save the answers to Tennessee Williams question for another day. But today, I really want to help you with just some nice guidelines, some do’s and don’ts to help you in verbal communication and nonverbal communication. And in written communication. So Emma Thompson has taught us “any problem big or small, always seems to start with bad communication.” Someone isn’t listening.” That can often be true.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:33
Okay, and every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters. by strengthening your confidence lead, I try to do that in one of three areas leading with clarity to help you have more connection to purpose, why are you doing what you’re doing? And why does it matter. Second, leading with curiosity, which is all about building self awareness, self leadership and self care skills, really important to have those in place, in order to lead effectively and third, to build and lead a community. And this is where we really think about what are the practical skills to help you strengthen those you lead and strengthen your own skills. And so as we think about communication one on one, we are really focused on this third area, which is building and leading a community. Communication is one of the biggest issues that we see come up with teams. So we could dedicate an entire podcast series on communication. We could talk about it all day long for years, and still have plenty to say. And in fact, I’ve done that in other forums with some leadership trainings, there’s a lot to understand there. But we’re not going to do that today.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:44
Today, I’m going to give you the quick and dirty list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to communication. So we’re going to talk about verbal communication. So the words we use, we’re gonna talk about nonverbal communication. So what are our facial expressions? What’s our body language, the majority of our communication actually is nonverbal. So we don’t want to overlook this. And then I’m going to give you some do’s and don’ts as it relates to written communication,because Boy, oh, boy, there’s a lot happening with written communication. If we think about slack channels, if we think about email, if we think about texting, boy, there are so many ways to get it wrong. And so, you know, I hope that you can look at these lists as some quick guidelines to really help you to pay attention to your own communication so that you can be a little more reflective about that, not as dictates, or rigid rules by any stretch, but really, less just let’s be more considerate about our communication and more intentional.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:52
Okay, so let’s jump right in with some communication do’s and don’ts. So I’m going to start. So this is when we think about verbal communication, I’m going to start with the communication don’ts. Okay, so the first one is don’t ask questions that aren’t questions. We are all guilty of this, I would venture to guess we ask questions that are really statements. So we’re trying to tell someone, what we want them to do, or how we’re feeling about a situation. But we frame them as questions when they’re really not questions that really can undermine trust in a relationship. It’s not helpful. So don’t ask questions that aren’t really questions. Okay. The second one is don’t mind read. So when you’re having a conversation with someone, don’t try to anticipate what they’re thinking or what they want. I don’t know if I’ve shared this before. But I used to be a horrible mind reader. I mean, I was horrible, because I did it all the time. But I was also horrible, because mind reading isn’t a thing. But I would try to give the answer that I thought the other person wanted to hear. And, you know, have probably had more than one interaction. But one interaction in particular, I recall with my guy friend, where we had had, had someone invite us over for dinner. And we said, Yes, afterwards, I you know, when we weren’t with it with a couple I said, well, we’re not going to go. And, you know, my guy friend just looked at me like what, like, are you? Are you insane? We just said that we would go, I said they don’t really want us to go, I think they’re just you know, they felt obligated. And he said, just take people at their word, you got to stop mind reading. And that’s been very helpful counsel for me. But some of us have grown up mind reading right? Anticipating needs. This happens if you are more of a people pleaser, this certainly happens if you’re pretty perfectionistic if your approval seeking. But mind reading, it’s not a thing, it’s not helpful. It really undermines our communication. So that’s the second one. The third one is don’t make assumptions. Don’t assume you know what the other person is thinking. Don’t assume what the outcome is. Seek understanding don’t make assumptions. Okay.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:18
The next one is don’t label others, we really want to stay away from labeling others because it just it forecloses on effective communication. Don’t give advice. Now, this is a big one. I see it all the time. It makes me crazy. Most of us really want to be helpful in relationships. And we think it’s helpful to give advice, but it’s not. Think about yourself on the other end of that conversation. When you have something that you’re struggling with. Do you really want advice? Or do you just want understanding? And I would argue that nine times out of 10, what we want is understanding what we want is someone to hear us, what we want is someone to acknowledge us to say I see you, I hear you, I might not understand exactly what you’re going through, but I’m here for you. Right, that’s the heart of empathy, and connection. Advice. Giving is not advice giving comes from a desire often to be helpful. But it can be received as this is how you’ve messed up. And now this is what you need to do to correct it. So it’s not very compassionate. It isn’t very empathetic. And here’s the thing, the other person and their advice, even though it may be well intended, may be totally useless. Okay. So we need to resist giving advice.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:44
Sometimes when people come into therapy, they think that that’s what a therapist or psychologist, social worker should be doing that this person is giving me advice. And I would say, absolutely not. That is not your responsibility, as even a therapist to give advice. In fact, that’s very helpful. So do not give advice. Okay?
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:07
The next one, don’t hold grudges. We’ve got to let people change. We’ve got to let people grow. So we need to be forgiving. Don’t hold grudges, because when we hold grudges, then that taints all of our communication. We’re coming in with our assumptions. We’re coming in with expectations. And it doesn’t give the other person an opportunity to grow and move forward. Because none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, so no holding grudges. The next one, don’t blame or judge. This happens a lot in communication. And it happens when we are stressed. When we are stressed. We go into protection mode. And often what that means is we’re defending ourselves against others. And so how do we do that? We’ve got to, we’ve got to place the blame somewhere because it gives us a way of making sense of a stressful situation. So, you know, to say, hey, it’s your fault that this project wasn’t successful. First of all, that’s crushing. Second of all, it’s usually not true that you know, the answer is probably much more nuanced than that. But third, it really erode psychological safety and trust. So no blaming no judging, we want to stick with the facts on the ground, pay attention to what’s happening in the moment, we no one needs a label, or to be blamed.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:28
Next is don’t try to control others. When we are in a relationship with others, right, it’s just that you’re in relation to another, it’s not your job to control them, it’s not your job to tell them what to do. Even with kids, I would argue that’s not your job to control them with parenting and children. Without guiding it’s about encouraging, definitely about showing them the path, but not controlling. So the next one, don’t use you statements. When we use use statements in communication with others, it can really border into blaming and judging. You always do this, you never do that you failed on this, right? Like, here’s the thing, when we use use statements, we’re assigning attribution to them, we’re assigning judgment to them, we’re saying this is this was your perspective, this is where you were coming from. And you don’t know you might have guesses about that. But don’t try to speak for another person. And then the last verbal communication don’t is don’t avoid addressing concerns. This is one of the biggest communication issues that I see in my work is that teams and couples, right, they avoid addressing their concerns, because they want to be nice, there, they don’t want to deal with conflict, they’re afraid of potential conflict. And in the process, they render themselves in effective way don’t want that happening for you. Or those you lead those you work with those you love.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:02
Okay, so now, let’s look at verbal communication do so what do we what do we want to do, because it’s a lot easier to focus on positive behaviors that you can move towards, rather than just behaviors that you’re getting wrong or that you need to get rid of. And so more than anything, we really want to pay attention to the verbal communication do so that you can really focus your energy and your time towards the effective communication.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:32
So do state concerns directly, do not beat around the bush, be direct, of course, be respectful, do focus on specific behaviors, specific behaviors are very important for effective feedback. Because you’ve got to give someone direction for what are they going to do with the feedback you’ve given them. And so specific behaviors are very helpful, they can be a little painful sometimes. But it’s really important when you are communicating. The next thing is to use I statements. So right, we’re staying away from use statements, and we’re going to use I statements. So I feel like you might not be taking this seriously. I’m concerned about the pace of this project. So you are owning your experience, you’re owning your emotions, and you are by communicating about them, you’re opening the door for understanding and for a potential different perspective. So maybe the other person can say, this is why I haven’t completed it. And that understanding can be a lightbulb moment for you. It’s also important because perhaps the other person doesn’t understand your concern or why your concern might be valid. And so you’ve got to own your statements and using I statements is a good way to do that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:54
Next with verbal communication, we do want to listen and reflect. So Stephen Covey has taught us that the biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply. So he has said before that often in communication, we’re just waiting for our turn, to share our perspective. We’re not really listening, to seek understanding and we’ve got to center ourselves on listening, understanding and reflecting. So what do I mean by reflecting, reflecting is stating back what you hear from the other person. So I hear you saying you’re frustrated about this situation, that would be a reflection, it is a way to communicate that you are listening and that you’re trying to understand, right? And it’s also an effective way for you to really integrate what you are hearing so that you can understand.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:55
Okay, the next verbal communication do is express appreciation. So you might not see things eye to eye. But if you can express appreciation, if you can express good intent, that will lower any sort of defenses that may creep up when we are having challenging conversations, because it is a human tendency for us to get defensive when we have difficult conversations or when we are giving or receiving feedback. And so if you can’t express appreciation, if you can express good intent to say, Hey, I can see, you’re really making a big effort here, that can really lay the groundwork for a positive communication that’s actually effective, which is what we want.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:45
Okay, verbal communication do the next one is focus on your feelings. Now, that might sound a little bit strange, but you need to own your feelings. So just like I was saying, we want to use I statements, you must take responsibility for your feelings. So sometimes it might be finding myself really stressed about this timeline. And, you know, often with that, you need to ask yourself, like, Who is this a problem for? Is it me? Is it a problem for me? Because I’m having a hard time managing my stress? Or is this a problem because we’re really not on a good timeline here. And so when you can focus on your feelings, and own your feelings that can help you to have clarity about what’s the issue here? And is there a need for feedback for someone else? Or is there maybe a need for you to do your own distress tolerance work? So focus on your feelings, not assigning feelings to the other person. Because you don’t know. It’s easy to say you’re inconsiderate. So right there, we have a you statement. And we have an assigning feelings to the other person, which you don’t know, unless they specifically tell you that you don’t know. So stick to your own feelings.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:59
Okay, next, for verbal communication Do’s, do collaborate, do invite others in, do, do bring others on board with you. Okay? The next verbal communication do is to communicate about communication. So we call this meta communication. So we communicate, which is we’re talking about what we’re talking about a specific situation specific content, maybe the project, whatever. But when we communicate about communication, we’re communicating about the process of communication, to be able to say, how is this conversation going, are you hanging in there Do we need to have a time out, are you know, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, I need to take a five minute break and then come back. And so communicating about the communication is always there as always happening because as humans, we have our own physiological responses. We have things and emotions, thoughts, feelings that come up for us. And we need to be willing to communicate about what’s happening happening for us in those moments, so that we can pace ourselves and make the communication more effective.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:08
The next verbal communication do is to use preface statements. So I love this one, this is what I do all the time, especially if you have difficult feedback to give, which is something I do a lot in my line of work, using a preface statement can communicate great intent. So to be able to say, I see, I see that you’re working really hard on this project. Let me share my concern, though, the timeline is not working, right. And so you can preface your statements by expressing good intent and acknowledgement of their good effort. Make sure that’s genuine, don’t just pull something out of thin air because that will ring hollow. And it’s you know, when when we’re disingenuous, that’s just ultimately disrespectful. But can you preface your statements with Hey, I really appreciate the great work you do. And then we share, you know, if there’s a concern or something else, sometimes it’s not a concern after the profit statement. But going above and beyond to share your good intent can make a big difference. Sometimes the profit statement is, Hey, I, I really want to share with you what I’ve noticed, you’re doing such incredible work. And so thinking about how those preface statements can really lay the foundation for effective communication.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:37
And then the last verbal communication do and of course, there are always more but these are kind of the big ones as I think about it. The last one is do problem solve. So this doesn’t mean advice giving but be collaborative, be willing to dig into the issue and see how you can help. Do you have another perspective that can be helpful for the individua.l So problem solving is a great thing, it’s an essential thing on teams. It is not the same as advice giving. Advice giving is, you should do this, right? It’s kind of like, you’re on your ivory tower, looking down, telling them what to do without really understanding the ins and outs of the problem. But when we problem solve, we’re getting in there with them. We’re rolling up our sleeves. And we’re understanding the dimensions of the problem, and really collaborating to get to effective solutions. So really a good thing to problem solve in communication.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:32
Okay, and now we’re moving on to our second list of do’s and don’ts. So now we’re talking about nonverbal do’s and don’ts. And as I mentioned, the majority of our communication is actually nonverbal. Alright, so when we think about nonverbal, we think about our facial expressions, we think about maybe sounds that we make that aren’t words, that happens, we think about our body language. And so do not underestimate the importance of your nonverbal communication. So let’s start with the non verbal don’ts. So the first one is do not roll your eyes. This is a really big one, rolling your eyes expresses contempt. This was found very clearly in the research of Dr. John Gottman. And it is something that is so incredibly dismissive in communication, it communicates, I don’t have time for you, I’m better than you. I can’t even stand that you’re talking to me right now. I mean, it’s extreme. And again, that’s not just coming from me that’s coming from a big body of research from dr. john Gottman. So stay away from those eye rolls, because eye rolling communicates contempt better than approach to the other person, which obviously is the opposite of listening and seeking understanding.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:58
Okay, the next don’t is don’t interrupt with sounds. So some don’t interrupt with words, either, of course. But don’t interrupt with sound. So sometimes the half, or you know, other sounds that really communicate like I’m not listening, I don’t care, you’re wrong. We all kind of know what those sounds are, whether there are sounds that we make, or others make in response to us. So pay attention to that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:25
The next don’t is don’t raise your voice, the minute we raise our voices in communication, it sounds alarm bells, through the mind of the other person, it really sets off this survival and stress response of this is not safe, I’ve got to get myself to safe ground. And so can you keep yourself calm. One of the best ways to keep yourself calm is to keep your voice calm. So I years and years ago, I worked with a lovely family who had some pretty caustic communication. And you know, we did a lot of work with the verbal communication and the actual words that they were saying, but we spent just as much time helping them with their nonverbal communication. And one of the most important things that we worked on was their tone of voice, and making sure that they could manage their tone of voice and keep themselves from yelling, so that they could deliver their message. And that it will, the importance of the message wasn’t lost in delivery, because they were raising their voices, the other person dismissed them at that point, the other person got scared, and didn’t hear what they were saying. And so we had a little watchword, with this family that whenever they were in communication, and they were struggling with raising their voice, we just used the word tone. So basically, watch your tone, right, because you can say something, and it can be very effective. And if you have a different tone of voice, right, a sharp edge, raising your voice, the message is not delivered, it is a completely different message. And so that was a little tool that we used with that family that when they felt like oh boy, someone’s You know, this person’s raising their voice with me, they could say tone and it could just be a very quick reminder and a check in point to like, okay, let’s, let’s settle that down again.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:34
Okay, the next non verbal don’t is don’t cross your arms. You know, if you’ve done any reading or learning on body community, or nonverbal communication, one on one and body language, you know, the first one is don’t cross your arms. I’m a, I’m a clinician, I work with folks face to face all the time and I cross my arms. So this isn’t like a golden rule but it is one to be mindful of. Do you have an open stance? And when you cross your arms, it really communicates a very close stance, I’m not listening, I’m not paying attention. So, of course, we know that’s not always true. That’s not always what you might be experiencing if you’re crossing your arms. But we do want to be mindful of that and mindful of how that nonverbal communication may be being received. Okay?
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:25
The next don’t is don’t leave the conversation unless you’re unsafe. So there can be situations where there is a safety issue, right, maybe like a lot of yelling, labeling, calling names, that sort of thing. Those would obviously be situations where we would leave the conversation. But generally, we want to try to stick with the conversation. We don’t want to Stonewall, we don’t want to foreclose on the opportunity to get through the conversation. Now there are times where you might need to take a timeout, but you communicate about that. So you don’t just leave without saying anything. But it may be very appropriate to say, Hey, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Can we take a timeout, and you know, maybe check in in 10 minutes or an hour or tomorrow morning. And that can be very, that can be a very helpful tool in a difficult conversation. But generally, we don’t want to just abandon a conversation unless it is, of course a safety issue.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:31
The next don’t, is don’t take a defensive stance. Now, of course, we’ve talked about crossing arms, there are other ways that you can take a defensive stance, so maybe you’re sitting on a chair that’s higher than another person, maybe you’re standing over someone that is sitting down, maybe you’ve got your hands on your hips and your your feet far apart, right? These are all defensive stances that we want to be cautious about because they can communicate intimidation, anger, and hostility. And of course, we don’t want that happening. When it comes to communication. Now leaders in particular, I want you to pay attention to your nonverbal communication, because your folks, your team members are always watching you. And they’re really watching your nonverbal communication. So watch those eye rolls, watch those defensive stances, because people will read between the lines, even though we don’t want them to, and they will make some assumptions based on that. And, you know, those assumptions could be wrong, they could be very unhelpful. So take take great care in that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:41
Okay, so now let’s talk about the non verbal communication do’s. So do breathe slowly. When you breathe slowly, you are actually slowing down your physiological arousal, you’re slowing down that stress response that says this isn’t safe, I’ve got to get out of here. And you’re really allowing space to think clearly, you’re allowing space to listen, you’re allowing space to understand. So breathing slowly, is a very helpful nonverbal tool in communication.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:16
So the next do is do maintain eye contact. This is a signal of respect, it’s it’s a way that you can make sure that you are listening that you are seeking understanding. Now maintaining eye contact can also feel vulnerable. But this is a trust builder, when we can maintain eye contact. Because you’re saying like even though this might be uncomfortable, I’m here and I’m doing my best to hang in here with you. So it can be really helpful. The next nonverbal do is do Watch your tone, right? I’ve already talked about that a little bit. But our tone of voice can make a huge difference in whether a message is received as loving and caring versus whether a message is received as hostile and dismissive. Right, and it can be the exact same words, the exact same words, but the tone of voice can make all the difference. So be careful and watch your tone.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:15
The next nonverbal do is keep an open stance. Right. So what does an open stance look like? often an open stance means no cross legs, no crossed arms. It’s, you know, sitting at the same level as another person, it’s sometimes standing back which can be considered an open stance rather than standing guarded with arms crossed, legs far apart. And so an open stance is very inviting. It’s welcoming. It says tell me more I want to understand.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:47
Another nonverbal do is definitely do listen. Think about communication as an opportunity to understand if you can take that as your lead with communication, you’ll be in a really good place. Most of us look at communication as an opportunity to say what we want to say. And sure there’s value in that. But if we can lead with listening, if we can lead with understanding, we will get where we need to go. And we’ll be able to communicate our needs along the way.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:23
Okay, and then the last nonverbal do is do nod to communicate understanding, I use this a lot, I think it can be very helpful, because first of all, the nodding is nonverbal, but it is saying I’m with you. And keep going. Right? Like, I appreciate what you’re saying. And I would like to hear more of it. But with a nodding, you’re not interrupting, right, because with those sounds, we can be interrupting. Of course, if we jump in with words, we’re obviously interrupting, but nodding to communicate understanding signals that you hear the person that you are inviting what they are saying, you’re inviting them to continue. So it’s a really important way of saying, I’m with you, I’m with you, and keep going.
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:08
Okay, and now we’re on our last communication do’s and don’ts list. And this one is all about written communication. And boy, oh, boy, we got some work to do people. So let’s start with our written communication don’ts. So do not address significant concerns via email, text, or apps. Just don’t do it. If it’s an important concern, you need to communicate either face to face video phone, that sort of thing. Don’t do that. In email chains. Don’t do that in, in a big chain with other people, right? So like a company wide WhatsApp or something like that that’s disastrous, or text. So be really mindful of that. Often, we will do that because we want like, we have something we need to say, and we want to get it off our chest. And so whatever mode can help us do that most quickly, we’ll go to, but it it’s about serving our needs and managing our anxiety, rather than thinking about how can this message best be received. And so you’ve got to be generous and thoughtful about the other person and not just make it about bringing down your anxiety.
Dr. Melissa Smith 32:25
So the next written communication don’t is don’t use sarcasm, boy, oh, boy. sarcasm. First of all, sarcasm is awesome. I love sarcasm, I use a lot of it myself. But when it comes to written communication, so much is lost in translation, what you might consider as a light hearted message could be taken very, very hostily. And so be very careful aboutsarcasm in written communication. I would just probably, especially in a professional setting, I’d steer clear of it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 32:59
The next written communication don’t is don’t be vague, say what you need to say, be direct, be clear, Don’t beat around the bush, it’s so hard to read between those lines in written communication. The next written communication don’t is don’t CC the whole organization, right. Like there’s never a place for that. So consider who needs the feedback, consider the best forum consider who needs to be involved in that. Keep the whole organization out of it. Don’t BCC people. Unless they absolutely need to know. And if you are BCCing someone, and they should be part of it. Maybe they should just be CC’d. And so I just think that that becomes a trust issue with others and so we want to be really careful about that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:47
The next written communication don’t is don’t use emojis. This is this kind of a personal one for me. And right, like I think there can be a place for emoji. So sometimes we have Slack channels, that sort of thing where it’s, it’s a fun and playful way for team members to interact. But if we think about text, if we think about certainly email, which would be a more formal form of written communication, stay away from emojis. It’s not very professional. Okay. And there are lots of ways that those emojis can be misinterpreted. So there’s that as well.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:27
The last written communication don’t that I have for you today is don’t use acronyms your reader may not know there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to wade through an email or a text with a lot of acronyms. And of course, using acronyms can be super helpful because you can kind of get to your point more quickly, which is good in written communication. But if your reader may not know what you’re saying or what you mean by that acronym, you’re going to just create more confusion. So be really, really Be mindful of that. Certainly, you can use acronyms, but you want to be careful about that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:06
Okay, so now, let’s think about written communication do so what can you focus on to help the effectiveness of your written communication. So do review and edit before sending. Boy, if we would just do this, this would save us a lot of grief, I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received, where I’m just like, oh, my goodness, like, who wrote this. And a simple review and editing an email can really be be a big lifesaver. So not only does it clarify the communication, right, it takes a little time, which people don’t like, but it really can clarify the communication. So you are communicating what you intend to communicate. And ultimately, it saves time. Because, you know, if you’re not reviewing and editing, it’s just going to create more confusion. And I think the last thing is, it can hurt your reputation, right? If you’re sending out communication, that’s got a lot of errors and misspellings in it, it will impact how the reader perceives you. So it’s worth your time to review those emails before you send them.
Dr. Melissa Smith 36:13
Okay, the next written communication do is and there may be people that disagree with me on this one. But I do think especially in, like if we’re thinking about team members, and professional communications, and email, do use bullets for clarity. Don’t, don’t wax on and on and on in emails. Now, I’ve definitely been guilty of that. But when we think about an email communication, you need to get to the point and tell the reader what, you know, what you need, right? Like, what is the point of the communication and bullets really can add a lot of clarity, using short paragraphs can be very helpful. And so we want to make the communication easy for the reader. And bullets can really help with that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 37:04
Okay, so the next written communication do is use If so, to advance the conversation. Now, I first heard of this from Tim Ferriss on his podcast, and I now use it all the time. It’s so helpful. So you know, if you have a question for someone in an email, don’t just leave an open ended question. Give your reader the next steps. So you know, you’re asking them, do they, you know, are they open for dinner on Thursday? If so, then give them the next steps to take. This advances the conversation, this helps you to avoid needless emails back and forth. And so do what you can when you’re asking questions in email to advance the conversation. I do this in text all the time as well. So if yes, what’s the next step? If so, what’s the next step? Or what is your recommendation that really moves the conversation along?
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:07
Okay, the next written communication do is do apply acronyms sparingly. So like I said, there can certainly be a place for acronyms, it really helps to speed the conversation, if everyone knows what that acronym is, but that’s really the key. That’s why being careful about acronyms really is important. But still, in written communication, you want to use those acronyms sparingly. Because it gets to a point where you have so many acronyms that it actually increases the cognitive load of your reader. And it’s no longer a tool to ease communication, it actually is a barrier to effective and efficient communication. So really apply acronyms sparingly.
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:52
Okay, the next written communication do is do invite follow up. So maybe you’re sharing something in an email communication, invite collaboration, invite, follow up, invite the person in, right so that it’s not just a dictate that you’re sending via email, invite collaboration, this is big, and it can go a long way to build positive feelings and trust not only within your team, but with any stakeholder that you are communicating with.
Dr. Melissa Smith 39:26
Okay, and then the last written communication do is do include next steps. So you’re talking about something, let your reader know what the next steps are. This is where bullets are really, really helpful. So next steps, I need you to sign the attached document. I need you to respond with any concerns By this time, right give them deadlines, because that’s going to help move the conversation along. If you have a tight deadline. lead with the deadline in the beginning of the email with In the first couple of sentences, maybe you highlight it, maybe you bold it, maybe you underline it. But make, make it easy for your reader to understand what you’re asking them to do. And then of course, include next steps, so that that email doesn’t just land with a thud that you never that you never hear back on.
Dr. Melissa Smith 40:23
So there you go. Those are our three lists. So we’ve got our verbal communication do’s and don’ts. We’ve got our nonverbal communication, do’s and don’ts. And we have our written communication do’s and don’ts. So I hope those are very helpful for you. Please understand, I’m not saying that this is everything when it comes to communication, but it’s just a quick and dirty guide of communication and what I want to help you to really kind of see where you’re at, there’s always more to be said about communication, I believe it’s really important to get communication, right. It is the tool we have, it is the tool we have. And so hopefully, these lists can be helpful for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:08
So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/communication101. One more time that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/communication101. There at my website with the shownotes I am including some links to some of my other podcasts on communication, lest you think I don’t have anything else to say on this. And so we’ve got Episode 93, which is all about Communicating Concerns at work. That’s a big one. And then Episode Five, How Can I Effectively Communicate With my Team. So those will also be good resources for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:52
Please know that I’m social, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love it if you give a review of the podcast so that I know what’s working for you. And so other people can find the podcast. And please know I’m also social. I’m on Instagram @dr.melissasmith. I would love to interact with you there. I will have these lists for you on my post this week. And I would love to hear what you think of them. So that’s a great place for us to communicate and to engage and I’d love to hear what you think of the podcast. So I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai