Do you talk like a teenager in your business?


Do you use language like this - I'm going to do this with them and then we'll go there?

Stop it now!

Teenagers (yes I'm generalising) can be very vague when they're asked to share information. It often takes a long drawn out conversation to understand what's being said. The conversation has twists and turns, and lots of questions need to be asked before their meaning is understood. Long conversations are a luxury of time when you have business to run. When you're busy you can fall into the trap of thinking you don't have time to spell out what you mean, that your people should just 'get it'.

Often rushed communications, where the sender knows what they mean and thinks everyone else will understand them too, fail to communicate clearly as the receiver doesn't have the same view or hear the same message as you think you shared. When we rush our messages, whether by email or in person, it's easy to leave out important information such as the context, explain any assumptions we've made or make our expectations known.

When you write to someone, always reread your words to make sure they're clear or have someone else check them for you if you can, before you send.  Take the position of someone who doesn't know what you're talking about and pay attention to information that might be unclear or vague to them. The key is to take the position of the receiver, put yourself in their shoes. It does take longer to reread an initial email before sending but the payoff is that it can save multiple emails back and forward trying to clarify what was said.

Rushing how we communicate is a false time saving. Somewhere along the way any miscommunication will need to be resolved (if you're lucky) or some disaster cleaned up (if you're unlucky). You could incur other business costs besides time.

Another issue to be wary of is the use of jargon. It's so simple to use when you're talking to your 'own'. It's just that when you talk to anyone that doesn't understand your company or industry jargon the conversation is that much harder, takes longer and has to be interrupted to ask what acronyms or terms mean. Keep in mind that jargon laden communication is exactly like teenage talk. It's designed for the sender (the teenager) to understand but not the receiver (the parent) to comprehend. So unless your aim is to keep information hidden and vague consider your audience and be mindful of it creeping into your conversations.

When you consider that clearer communication in business aids our ability to get on with our job and get the result we're after, it would seem mad not to take the time to make ourselves clear. Taking the time to communicate clearly also shows respect for the people we work with and means people will have confidence in what we say too. It all builds trust and that's at the heart of good relationships and business.



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