How to ensure our message arrived at our counterpart correctly
As a social creature, communicating is by nature our ability for survival. However, even taken for granted, delivering correct message is often difficult to do. It takes two parties, both sides must do their parts effectively, otherwise a “miscomm” most likely will happen. The sender must be able to send the right message. The receiver must ensure they got the message right.
Sending the right message
I was taught by Miss Nuraini Razak (VP of Corporate Communications in Tokopedia — https://www.linkedin.com/in/nurainirazak/) that how we are sending message must contain these seven attributes:
- Clear: Use simple words, avoid complex words or phrases
- Concise: As short as possible
- Concrete: Ensure it only has one meaning. If it may contain other meaning, state which one you meant, by providing supporting message.
- Correct: Checkout for typo, miss spelling, miss pronunciation, use correct grammar. YES, correct grammar please! It means a lot. Whether you say “I am doing”, “I will be doing”, “I have done”, or “I already did” gives completely different context and meaning.
- Coherent: Makes sense. Use supporting data if needed.
- Complete: Do not give partial information, do not assume your counterpart knows the rest. If needed, re-confirm their understanding.
- Courteous: Be polite. It is different, how we speak to a friend, to our colleagues or to our supervisor.
In the IP/ internet protocol, to ensure correctness and completeness of message it uses data checksum. In real life we can also use this. It is sometimes a good practice to ask our counterpart whether they got all of our messages. If needed this can be done by repeating our message (if verbal), or by writing them to MoM/ minutes of meeting.
Receiving the message
Sometimes we are being polite by saying “yes sir” although we don’t actually get what it is. Sometimes we are afraid to be told “slow poke” or “stupid” if we are unable to understand the message we are being told in one trial. Do NOT do these!
If we do not get the message, it is better to keep asking for clearance, even if it has to be repeated several times, or even we can ask to setup specific meeting with graphical presentation, just to get a hold on certain topic.
Do not assume. Assumption is dangerous and can tear down the project you are running. Make sure we understand all the messages and reconfirm back to the person, if we got them right.
Use body language
I was also told by Miss Nuraini that when we speak, our message is accepted 55% through our body language. Our voice and tone gets 38%, while our contextual words only get 7%. In certain countries, body language also defines whether we are being polite or not, therefore we have to be careful and know the right culture.
The percentage data also explain why non-verbal communication is often leading to miscommunication. And face to face meeting is often more effective than phone/ verbal, because we are able to see the gestures and body language. Working from home? Internet call while activating your webcam is highly recommended. Do not forget to make up.
Sometimes all of these are not sufficient due to the complexity of the message or information. Do not be discouraged to add more illustrations and diagrams for offline backup. Example:
- John: “please build me a house fence, it will be 5 meters wide, 1 meter tall, and silver, stainless.”
- Engineer: “Noted. House fence, it will be 5 meters wide, 1 meter tall, and silver, stainless. Got it bro!”
Believe me, the engineer will build for John the entirely different kind of fence than what John actually has in mind 😅
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thanks for reading 🍻