What’s so difficult about communication? Lots!
From a brain perspective, every person thinks differently, so the words and gestures that we hear/see/interpret during a conversation are filtered through an intricate system of beliefs and mental maps that give meaning to the messages you send and I receive. To complicate matters, the way many people receive and deliver their messages nowadays is more and more electronic. I probably email back and forth with my friends and colleagues more than I actually speak with them (did I just write that?!). I also rely on the web to find information about people and businesses that interest me. And let’s not forgot "Crackberries."
So what’s the catch?
The catch is that 93% of the meaning of a message is carried non-verbally. Of that 93%, 38% is the way we say it (tone/inflection/pace/volume) and 55% is our body language. Put another way, only 7% of the meaning of a message is carried verbally or in the words that we hear/read. Why is that a catch?
It’s a catch because by relying primarily on email, text messaging, or your website to convey your message, you’re likely making it harder on your colleagues and potential clients to understand your message. Think of it this way: have you ever received an email that you partially or even totally misunderstood? Chances are you applied meaning to the message that wasn’t there. Why? Because 93% of the meaning we typically interpret in verbal communication is missing in written (non-verbal) communication. There is no body language in an email (that would be interesting though wouldn’t it?!). There is no inflection, pace, tone, or volume (unless you consider using ALL CAPS and that means you’re either shouting or you’ve forgotten to turn off caps lock).
What does this mean to you? Poor communication (and poor management) contributes to higher levels of disengagement which can contribute to increased turnover not to mention a host of other undesirable results. The good news is these are manageable situations. When you are creating (or considering creating) internal communications for your company or when you are developing your website content, think of ways to use the written word to convey the nonverbal portion of your message that is likely missing. Take your time. Let others review it. If necessary, work with a professional copywriter who knows how to write in a way that conveys the entire meaning of your message. A communications consultant can also help you to outline and define your internal communications strategy (these are the messages you should be communicating to keep your staff informed and engaged). Taking time to plan and review your messages may feel like a waste of time, but it will save you time by minimizing confusion, questions, and the fallout of misunderstood messages.