I read a nice article by Steve M List called Think Before You Speak in MSDN Magazine and it talks about the challenge of communicating well. One of his key points is that you can be active or passive, but either way you’re affecting discussions when you’re involved. Another is that typically everyone wants to be treated well, but not everyone wants to be treated the way you do.
The latter point resonated with me, as I’m fond of just saying what needs to be said clearly and directly, without sugar coating it. That can also be called being tactless I believe! Over time I’ve learned that how you deliver the message is every bit as important as the message itself. That doesn’t mean you have to be sly, or deceitful, or avoid confrontations, but it means for important stuff – which often includes criticizing someone – taking a moment or two to frame and phrase it well is time well spent.
None of us work in a vacuum. We have co-workers, employees, or customers, and with all of them communicating well pays dividends. I find that writing a lot has helped me communicate better, though I’ll admit that I have a ways to go some days. Communicating can be hard, especially when there is a disagreement involved, so it’s worthwhile to build the skills in advance, and the only way is to practice. How would you rate our communications skills at work? Would your co-workers agree? Or how would you rate my communication skills here on the blog? And for those that know me, do you agree that it’s improving my communication skills?