(This is a re-post from my blog post for Sourcetoad back in March ’17.)
As we tend to spend 30% of our lives in close proximity to other human beings it is important that we attempt to keep not just our professional skills sharp but also the skill of communication. To be able to articulate what we mean to say clearly and holistically is a cornerstone of good teamwork. Without good communication no team can succeed.
When speaking with fellow team members many factors come into play. One the speaking sides word choice, tone of speech, body language, and even facial expression can influence the receiver’s perception of what is being stated. Let’s take the example phrase ‘I am doing great today.’ Without context the phrase is simply a statement; say this phrase a frown and it becomes a sarcastic statement. Say the same phrase slow tired voice and it could easily be considered irony. While these two examples are extremes they help to prove the point that it is not always what is being stated but how it is being stated.
Expounding on the `how` a given statement is positioned; let us imagine every day we arrive at our place of employment, every day you ask the same peer ‘how is your day going’, and every day that peer answered with ‘as good as it can’. While the statement itself is not very clear the tone of voice, the energy used to state the phrase, and the body language of the peer are all context clues as to the true meaning of the phrase.
As we get familiar with our peers we can gain insight into the person, mannerisms, typical behaviors, and average attitude. Thus when communication with our peers gaining insight into the meaning behind the phrase. However, this path of contextual knowledge and interpretation can take a large amount of both time and effort.
In my opinion needing to gain intimate knowledge of an individual’s particulars is, in general, a waste of effort. I am not saying do not get to know your peers, the opposite in fact. But when it comes to explaining abstract ideas, concepts outside of areas of expertise or even humor, being precise and clear about the stated subject matter eliminates misunderstandings. I like to belong I am not the only one who has made a statement only to be misinterpreted and it causing issues down the road. Being clear prevents repeated effort and the need to start over on whatever the given subject or discussion is.
In the end it is important to remember that when we communicate with the people we spend upwards of ⅓ of our daily lives with we need to try our best to be clear, precise, and as well mannered as possible.