When this happens, I sometimes find that the person sending the message doesn’t have an understanding of the recipients. They have not put themselves in the “other person’s shoes”. Therefore, the message is confusing because key points are not addressed.
So what usually happens when a message is confusing, especially when delivered in a formal top-down manner?
People Guess What It Means
Most people won’t raise their questions; it’s easier to just guess. Which leads to more confusion as people are following different directions they’ve interpreted into the message.
When someone does have a question, they reply-to-all and a painful email chain ensues, trying to clarify what the heck was trying to be said in the first place.
What To Do Instead
Here are a few ideas, I’m sure you have more you can share in the comments:
- Have the message reviewed prior to mass distribution – Grab a few people you know and trust to raise questions. People who will be critical.
- Have a meeting or wait until a regular meeting – Face-to-face communication is always best. Many times, we send out an email when we have a standing weekly meeting we could have just waited for and added it to the agenda. Email should be a last-resort communication method for important messages like a change in direction or process.
What else? How do you communicate effectively and clearly?
Image credit: P Shanks