Communicating in smartphone

We can all benefit from clearer lines of communication.

Several years ago, my sister’s family moved from Illinois to Florida for my brother-in-law’s job. He works for a large corporation, and when his company merged with another, he was transferred to the new company’s headquarters.

Now that they’ve been remote for more than a year due to the pandemic, they’re allowing many of their employees to opt to be fully remote. The shift is a welcome one, allowing their family to enjoy the freedom of living where they want to live.

“The only thing that’s tough is not being able to swing into someone’s office really quick,” he shared.

I think many of us can relate, living in this new age. Being a strong communicator is one of the most critical skills in our world today, and has only become more essential as the convenience of in-person communication has been greatly reduced by the constraints of the pandemic. 

Being a strong and effective communicator, however, is something that every one of us can improve upon. As a marketer, I think about communication constantly. Marketing is, inherently, just intentional communication. There are countless keys to communicating effectively from marketing that translate to all of us as individuals:

Know Yourself

One of the pitfalls in communication is not being clear on what you need to communicate, or where you’re strong or weak in your communication.

Pausing and considering what it is you want to communicate and practicing self-awareness around your own strengths and weaknesses are the ideal places to start. 

Know Your Audience

Understanding who you’re communicating with, what motivates them, what they’re afraid of, where they are, how they like to be communicated with, what distractions they have and knowing their interests help you to tailor your communication to what’s best suited for the person with whom you’re trying to communicate. In one-on-one communication, this is often as simple as listening before you speak.

Give Context

I walked into a social gathering recently and immediately two people started communicating with me as if I knew what they were talking about, with no context whatsoever, and naturally, I was confused. I probably didn’t give them what they wanted out of the interaction because I was forced to try to catch up to what they were talking about, not what they were saying.

Giving people context invites them on the journey and allows them to be participants in the conversation.

Be Clear About What You Want

Whenever a conversation is coming to an end with a natural outcome, I try to re-articulate the takeaways or action items, who are responsible and when they need to be accomplished. Then, I follow up with a written communication restating those things. And, not surprisingly, things get done. But, when I omit those steps, often things fall off the radar or people might be confused about something because our short-term memory is just simply not wired to remember all the details of a conversation. 

Change Modalities When Needed

Whenever someone’s struggling with communication tension, I always ask how they’re communicating. Typically, most people need more than one modality of communication, such as a conversation followed by an email or a calendar invitation. The more important the communication, the more critical it is to escalate the modality to a more personal form of communication. Hard conversations shouldn’t happen in writing, but face to face. 

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Colleen Cook works full-time as the Director of Operations at Vinyl Marketing in Ashland, where she resides with her husband Mike and three young daughters. She's an insatiable extrovert who enjoys finding reasons to gather people.

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