If you have ever dealt with a person within your professional (or personal) sphere who doesn’t value communicating clearly and seems to be a master of vagueness, then you understand how frustrating it can be to accomplish anything when they are involved. You can’t pin them down on meeting days/times, agendas, project action items or end goals. Conversations sometimes take longer than they should because the word choice leads you to think you are discussing one subject when actually there is a completely different conversation happening.
If you are in a position of responsibility, it is imperative that you parse your words carefully, because things begin to happen and dominoes begin to fall when you communicate. For example, if you have a firm date for needing a report from a subordinate, don’t ask for that report in an open-ended fashion. Give them a clear date and time by which they should have it ready for you. If you need extra time to review the report prior to sending it up the chain, adjust the due date accordingly to account for it. If you need for the report to contain specific information, don’t assume this will be known. Give your employee a hit list of items that must be addressed to meet your needs.
But communication issues aren’t just on the managerial side. If you are looking to move up the ladder, you need to make certain your communications stay on task. Remember that if management is doing their jobs properly, they have several irons in the fire and rarely have time for lengthy chatter that ties up their time. If you have 30 seconds of information to communicate, it shouldn’t be stretched out to 3 minutes because of elaborate hyperbole and injection of emotional descriptions that cloud the real message. Be direct, provide color and background as needed, and get to the point. If you are on the management track, your bosses are paying attention to this type of thing to determine your ability to efficiently communicate and lead others.
Erroneous Communications have started/lost wars and ended relationships. Protect your professional reputation by practicing precision and time-sensitive communication. It will be one of the lynch pins of your advancement.