At GlobalSpeak Translations, we know a thing or two about how to communicate effectively. As a professional translation company, we’ve become acutely aware of just how important it is to say what you mean in a way that others can understand. Whether we’re in the midst of a technical translation project or organizing an internal meeting, we always aim to communicate clearly.
Unfortunately, communicating effectively is almost always harder than it seems. The English language is full of ambiguities and vagueness can lead to misunderstandings, and sometimes the context in which information is conveyed can allow something to get lost in translation.
In part one of this ongoing series, we’re going to take an in-depth look at some of the most common communication errors you might be making. We’ll then go on to explain how you can fix them and become a more effective communicator.
Let’s get started!
Are You Making These Communication Mistakes?
Skipping the Double-Check
How many times have you received an email riddled with so many spelling errors and grammatical oversights that it read more like an actual riddle than anything else? Rushing to send an email from your phone on the bus can help you get your work done quickly, but it can also make you look rushed or careless if you’re frequently making mistakes. Try reading your work out loud to ensure that it reads well, and if you’re sending a particularly important email or document, have a colleague proofread it. In many cases, a fresh set of eyes is all it takes to avoid embarrassment!
Mixing Up Mediums
The technological age allows us to communicate in a wide variety of different ways, but it’s important to ensure that you’re using the right channels to convey information. Bad news, for instance, should never be conveyed through a text message or email. While these two channels are great for communicating information quickly, they don’t allow you to convey body language, tone, and other elements that facilitate effective communication. Moreover, they don’t allow you to see how the other person is responding to your message, or if they fully understood what was being conveyed. If you have something important to communicate, do it in person or over the phone.
Avoiding Hard Conversations
At some point, you’ll have to discuss problems or issues with someone, whatever they may be. Whether you need to provide a coworker with constructive criticism or speak with your partner about a problem in your relationship, delaying the inevitable will only allow the underlying problem to unaddressed for longer. What began as a small issue can quickly grow into a large problem if you don’t address it right away, so try following these three points whenever you’re about to enter a difficult conversation:
- Stay calm: Tense situations aren’t made any more bearable if you’re tense, stressed, or nervous. Remember that you’re having this conversation because you want to improve your relationship.
- Provide context: Always be clear about the situation you’re discussing. This allows you to provide an important contextual background for your feedback.
- Be descriptive: Describe the specific action that you would like to discuss. Try to approach the description from an unbiased, neutral standpoint that doesn’t make any judgments.
- Discuss the effects: Without using evaluative language or implicit judgments, explain how the other person’s action affected (or continues to affect) you. Some situations may call for “I” language, though using “we” language can sometimes be beneficial as well. We will discuss the difference between these two communication styles in more depth below.
Not Knowing the Difference Between “I” and “We” Language
Are you familiar with the differences between these two speaking styles? You should be, as knowing when to use them can make your life significantly easier. As you probably expected, “I” language is great when you want to take ownership for something that you, and you alone, accomplished or did. However, it can come off as self-centered, or in some contexts, combative. “We” language, on the other hand, is much more inclusive and reframes what could be a person-against-person conflict as a problem that needs to be solved collaboratively.
Remember that interpersonal relationships are not battlegrounds or competitions. Each person with whom you are engaged is working toward the goal of understanding, and rephrasing your dialogue in terms that include everyone is often much more diplomatic and effective.
Eye contact is one of the most important elements of effective communication. We have all almost certainly tried to speak to someone while they’re using their phone, only to have them ask you to repeat what was said when they put the device away. How does it make you feel when this happens? We’re willing to bet that the answer is something along the lines of “not good.”
Even in circumstances in which no devices are present, maintaining good eye contact can show your interlocutor that you value their time and attention. Of course, you don’t have to stare directly into their eyes while they speak (and in fact, you shouldn’t!), but demonstrating that you’re listening through eye contact can help you build rapport and trust in almost any situation. If you find yourself uncomfortable with direct eye contact, then direct your attention toward the tip of the other person’s nose — in almost every case, they won’t be able to notice the difference.
We will discuss what it means to actively listen to someone in the next installment of this series, so be sure that you bookmark our blog page and check back next week if you found this section helpful!
Speak With Our Technical Translation Company
We hope that today’s entry will help you become a more effective communicator! If you have any questions about today’s material, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us using this form.
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