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Communications checklist

Sep 20 2012 13:01

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Cape Town - Did you know that poor communication could cost your company over R40 000 per employee annually?

This is according to a study, which highlights the vital importance of setting up and managing effective communication channels in your business.  

Su-Mari du Bruyn, partner in Adapt To Change, a company which specialises in assisting companies and entrepreneurs, lists the most common communication pitfalls to avoid.

  • Distance: recipients are sometimes literally out of hearing or reception range and don't get the necessary information timeously. They could, for example, be off ill or at a meeting instead of in front of their computers.
  • Technology failures: examples include computer systems that crash, emails that get diverted to your spam box, post that remains undelivered or even interference on a telephone line.
  • Staff, clients or suppliers have poor concentration, a lack of focus or are distracted: tis could be as a result of information overload, too many things to do, personal problems, a lack of sleep or health related issues.
  • The right information, wrong person:  you have information that you know someone within your organisation should receive, but you don't know the correct person to send it to.
  • Disabilities: staff, clients or suppliers with hearing deficiencies, speech impediments or even dirty glasses, can result in a distortion of the message that you were trying to get across.
  • Language (including jargon and accents): we have 11 official languages in South Africa as well as many internationals who work here, so there is bound to miscommunication because of misunderstood slang and strong accents. This is not even to mention industry specific acronyms, which could mean something completely different to someone from a different industry.
  • It’s not what you said, but how you said it: speed, tone, body language and perceptions can all impact on the interpretation of the message. With communication it is not a one size fits all.
  • Ambiguity or insufficient information: someone supplies information that is vague or not complete, for example bad/incomplete directions to a meeting.
  • Cultural differences: South Africa is culturally diverse so, as with language, there is bound to be miscommunication due to a lack of understanding of a staff member, supplier or client's culture.
  • Body language: many people do not understand the powerful statement they make when their body language communicates something different to what they are saying.
  • You hear only what you want to hear: your own perceptions often influence the message you receive.
  • Unnecessarily long communication channels: communication channels should be short and direct. The probability for miscommunication increases exponentially if your message has been filtered and repeated through various recipients before it reaches the final intended destination.
  • Conflicting messages: this happens when for example an email confirms one meeting time while a telephone phone call discusses something completely different.
  • Lack of candour or distrust: a lack of trust between people in business could lead to miscommunication.
  • Inaccurate judgement of importance: a lack of understanding of project or company priorities.


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