Communication is often cited as the issue when conflict arises. We communicate all day, every day and yet, somehow, we are still not good at it.
Mark Brown, the 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking, addressed us yesterday on this very topic. He gave us many gems and lessons in communication.
This is the lesson that I loved the most:
There is a word used in (and outside of) business today that just does not cut it in terms of clear communication.
That innocent sounding word is ASAP.
We all know what it means …. as soon as possible.
BUT what does that actually mean?
Picture the scene: You send an email to Jack.
“I need that report asap”
In your head you know and understand that you need it by 16h00 today.
What’s happening in Jack’s head? Jack is already working on a deadline and decides he’ll do your report tomorrow. He’s going to do it as soon as possible for him, not as soon as possible for you.
What happens? You get really tense with Jack because he does not deliver. Jack gets really tense with you because he was doing the best he can, and you just don’t understand him.
It happens so easily, doesn’t it.
Yet, the responsibility for Jack understanding your communication lies with you NOT him.
It such a simple thing, such a tiny word and so easy to avoid the misunderstanding.
How do you do this? Tell Jack by when you need the report.
“Please can you get that report back to me by 16h00 today”.
In this case, a few more words, and yet – much clearer communication.
Of course, Jack may come back and say he cannot get it done, in which case the two of you negotiate and decide on something that’ll work for both of you.
There are three reasons that we get into a mess around communication:
- We assume the other person knows what we mean
- We get into bad communication habits, like using ASAP instead of being clear on the deadline.
- We don’t check that the other person actually understandswhat we have said.
Become aware of the kind of language you are using.
Are you guilty of any of these three points?
Thanks Mark!! for an inspiring talk and effective tips on communication.
Remember: one word can make a huge difference.
You want to be clear when you communicate deadlines with someone?
Here’s the deal:
Never, ever use ASAP again!