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Better Communication Through Less Communication

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Ever wonder if your communication skills are lacking in the office? Feel as if you need to increase the amount of time you talk to your colleagues, coworkers, and employees? If so, perhaps it’s time to reconsider why less is better than more.

Robby Slaughter, speaker, consultant, and a principal of AccelaWork, recently shared his thoughts on communication with Inside Indiana Business in his article Better Communication Through Less Communication. This piece focuses in on points to consider when communicating in your office, with your colleagues, and even during meetings. It highlights seemingly innocent communication blunders that many of us commit unknowingly each and every day. According to Slaughter:

. . . too many modern business professionals attempt to run their careers through overcommunicating. They deliver soliloquies better suited for the stage than for the conference room. They write epistles instead of emails. They talk when they should be listening, and worst of all, call meetings when what the business needs most is for people to be working.


© Flickr user timparkinson

We all aim to become more efficient, less stressed and more focused in our work. This comes as no surprise to many of us. Unfortunately, we cannot control every single factor and/or interruption that occurs outside of our own little bubble. What we can do, however, is take steps to improve our communication to enhance not only our own productivity but also the productivity of those around us. If we lead by example and utilize the ideas that Slaughter provides in his article, we can show others that talking less doesn’t mean we lose connection with one another or fall short of achieving great discussions. Consider the following suggestions:

Eliminate Hollow Phrases

No more “so to says” or “it’s one of those things.” Eliminate “this, that, and the other” and destroy every “way, shape, or form.” Drop “very” and “I mean” and “you know.” These strings of words dull the minds of listeners. They occupy space without providing value. They lessen your impact, and therefore undermine your credibility. Stop.

It’s incredibly easy to utilize these phrases constantly as “fillers”. No doubt, you will have to remind yourself to not repeat, repeat, repeat these words. But, the more conscientious you are that they exist at the forefront of your vocabulary, the less you’ll rely on them moving forward.

Choose Your Medium Thoughtfully

We urge our readers to consider ways to communicate that are appropriate for individual situations. After all, not all scenarios are the same. We must always consider the best way for delivering information. If you can prevent it, don’t interrupt with a phone call. Draft your emails thoughtfully and with clear action items for response. Some further hints for delivering content:

  • In person – when information is emotional and/or sensitive
  • Over the telephone – when information is urgent and/or uncertain
  • By email – when information is detailed and not time sensitive

© Flickr user vuhung

Preparation vs. Reaction

Dropping in on a colleague to discuss an idle curiosity is rude and wasteful. Impromptu meetings with no agenda derail productivity and incite resentment . . . Before talking to a coworker, plan what you will say. Before presenting a new initiative in a meeting, work out your script. The more people who will receive your message, the more time you should spend crafting your words and visuals. It is easy to annoyingly over-communicate if you are woefully underprepared.

Slaughter encourages us to consider utilizing visual aids such as:

  • Photos
  • Bullet lists
  • Diagrams
  • Artwork

Communicate through Stories

When explaining a situation, use a name, tell the details in the order they happened, and describe the resolution. The arc of a good story lives forever in the mind of a listener.

Slaughter does caution readers however, to be careful about being silly, boastful, or overly clever. When we attempt to unnecessarily impress others or force laughter, it can often times have an adverse effect. Instead, be intentional in your communication. If you end up conjuring laughs or compliments through genuine remarks, that is certainly great! The point is, find balance. If you do, you will end up being someone those around you consider a pleasurable conversationalist.

Consistency and Correctness

If you use a number, make sure it is exactly precise. If you quote experts, check your sources. Provide references and be transparent about the origins of your ideas. If you become known as someone who pays little attention to the truth, you’ll also become known as someone who pays the most attention to the sound of their own voice . . . Follow the rules of grammar and spelling. Treat all people equally. If you must criticize, do so in private to that person, out of earshot of others. Check and double check. Admit when you are wrong, and apologize. Correctness and humility breed respect.

Slaughter’s points above speak volumes to so many of us. It’s hard to deny just how much our communication choices can make or break our day. That being said, it’s in our best interest to always be cognizant of the way in which we are relaying information and interacting with each other. Doing so will help us succeed not only in our business relationships, but in our personal productivity.

Let’s all strive to achieve better communication through less communication. Let’s be the trendsetters!

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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