And yet, studies show communication issues are the root cause of 95% of all problems at work.
So if communication skills are so important, why are they so terrible in most companies?
- Failure to listen. Listening has been a dying art form for the last 25 years in the U.S., but has reached critical status with the introduction of smart phones and tablets into the corporate world. It’s not just 13-year old girls that are paying more attention to their phones than they are to you, it’s your 51-year old boss, too.
- Failure to be clear and concise. Either the instructions you get are far too vague for you to know what is being asked (“Increase sales”), or so impossibly complicated and verbose that you lose the original message halfway through. If your co-workers give you the “deer in the headlights” stare too often, you’ve got a problem.
- Failure of volume control. Ever had one of those co-workers or bosses that yell out questions and instructions from their desk for the whole department to hear instead of getting up and using their “inside voice”? If not, you’re lucky.
- Failure to recognize cultural and gender differences. Most people at least try to understand differences in cultures and genders. Unfortunately people with deplorable communication skills spend most of their days with their feet in their mouths and can’t figure out why.
- Failure to be literate. Bad grammar, poor syntax, and a third grade-level ability to spell is rampant in most office written correspondence today. Memos should fall somewhere between a tweet and War and Peace, but sadly, most written correspondence doesn’t.
- Failure to communicate with virtual or off-site employees properly. In most industries, the days of everyone working in one office next to each other are dead and gone, so learning how to include telecommuters, freelancers and off-site employees is a must. Unless they are engaged, detachment and non-interaction becomes the norm and production suffers.
Do these sound familiar? If so, the next question you should ask is … where do the communication problems lie? Is it with your boss, your co-workers, the company culture, or maybe the person in the mirror?