How to cure a communication breakdown (in 6 steps)

When communication breaks down, everything breaks down. Oftentimes organisations make the mistake of assuming that a communication breakdown will be a very apparent event, but the truth is it doesn't happen overnight. Breakdowns take time and can proceed in such minute ways that they are only identified when something goes very wrong. This post from the VECCI blog focuses on what happens after the breakdown occurs – how can you get communication back on track and on it's way to optimum health? The post suggests the following:

  1. Stop making assumptions
  2. remove some 'links in the chain'
  3. Space out your messages
  4. Prioritise communication over time
  5. Bear in mind cultural/language differences
  6. Eliminate distractions

The suggestion to “space out your messages” is interesting, as it's often assumed that getting as much information to as many people as possible is always a good idea. In fact, this can flood the receiver's inbox as much as it can their mind, resulting in a loss of memory in the contents of messages or even in the directions given during meetings/phone conversations: Breakdowns in communication occur when people are passed the wrong information (or no information at all), or are unable to process the information they’ve been given. The latter issue is often caused when too many messages are communicated simultaneously – an induction to a new job is a good example of this. Spacing out your messages, and not bombarding someone with everything at once, can ensure information is processed effectively. One of the most important take-aways from this article is that communication breakdowns can be avoided by simply making sure that your organisation is applying some of the tips before communications slip. Beyond being a way to fix a communication problem, these tips represent a great list of best practices to introduce to your group.

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