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There are so many ways that we communicate these days that we can forget that there is actually an art to communicating well.
As creatives it is so hard to take the emotion out of our business interactions because we feel uniquely connected to our work. This is one of our biggest challenges. Remember that there should be no emotion in business, and this applies to your career as well.
I can’t say that I have completely mastered it myself yet, but I have learnt that clear communication is part of the success of any career- especially a creative one.
Whether you work alone or with a team of people, at some point during the day you will have to communicate with someone. This could be through a text message, email or in the old fashioned way of using the telephone.
Telephones can actually be a short cut way to getting things done, but we seem to have forgotten how to use them! We hide behind the typed word on our phones and in emails.
Think about how many times you have misinterpreted an email or text from someone. It is hard to convey a tone of voice in a text unless you want to shout and USE ALL CAPITALS!
I’m hoping you don’t shout at people very often!
In this article and podcast I want to talk about more productive ways of communicating and what to do if communication breaks down. We are all human and sometimes things go wrong. More often or not it is because someone didn’t understand the instructions, or that there was little or no communication between both parties. You can listen to it here.
I would prefer someone to check in with me daily and iron out any problems than sit wondering how they were getting on, and whether they understood what was required of them.
One of the best ways leaders in their field use communication is by empowering the other person that they are working with to take some ownership of the task.
There are a few simple ways that you can do this.
- The first is to be clear what you want out of of the situation.
- Ask them first how they would approach the task.
- Listen to what they say before you answer them, as they may have some interesting ways of completing the work that you hadn’t thought of.
- You want the person to take responsibility for their own work so that if things go wrong, they are more likely to take ownership of the problem.
- Telling people all of the time what to do doesn’t allow them to take responsibility-and it is also exhausting for you!
Think of all of those helicopter parents we have seen in the playground or in cafes. They constantly interrupt their children again and again. If you communicate this way with your clients or services that you use to deliver your creative work, all that happens is that the work takes twice as long, and you end up with a frustrated team that feels like you don’t trust them.
I want you to think about how you communicate with your team, service providers or clients.
Ways of communicating
- Do you have a respectful relationship with them?
- Do you ask for their help or ask them to make suggestions?
- Could you think of a better way to communicate with them?
- Are there ways you have communicated in the past that did or didn’t work for you?
- Examine why those ways of communicating did or didn’t work for you?
- What could you do differently next time?
How do you communicate in your day to day.
Do you prefer text to using the telephone, ask yourself why?
Are you nervous of using the telephone? (In the podcast I explain how you can improve this).
Examine the words that you use in emails. Do you sound confident and clear?
In emails make sure you remove words like but, just, hopefully and I’m not sure.
These words stop you from coming across as confident. It shows that you aren’t sure what you want and this can lead to poor communication.
If you aren’t sure about something say that you need some advice with a task, or offer suggestions of how you think something could be done, and that you would like their opinion about it.
Saying you’re not sure, don’t help anyone, it only shows that you are panicking. Offering solutions (even if they aren’t used in the end) opens up a dialogue with the other person so that there is two way communication.
Remember that even if you work alone there are other people that you rely on to run your creative business or career. Whether they are your telephone provider, website host, or even the postal service. If you treat them as part of your team and communicate well, then they are more likely to help you in the long run.
What is your biggest communication problem at the moment ?
Let me know in the comments below and i’ll see if I can help you work out a strategy to fix the problem.