The Olive Way E-Newsletter
Is Your Team Talking or Is It Communicating?
In a board room filled with marketing executives, I slipped a note into John’s hand. He read it and told what was there on the note to Mike, who sat next to him. The message went around the room like that until it finally came back to me. I shared what I heard with the team. John, in disbelief, almost fell from his chair.
On the original note John received, company A’s sales continued to increase and were 14 billion euros, a 15% increase from the previous year. By the time that message reached me, not only euros became U.S. dollars, resulting in an almost 30% decrease, sales also decreased by 50%! Imagine, if it were a public company, what would happen when such distorted news hit the media?!
Has your team ever run into a similar situation? Congratulations if your answer is no. If yes, have you ever wondered why?
The answer is simple: we assume things. We assume we got the right message across; we assume others understood what we said; we assume what we heard was true; we assume we understood the message sent to us; and we assume we have passed the same one on to the next person. We are skipping one critical step in the communication process: clarifying and verifying the message delivered and received, and if necessary, again, and again and again. Failing this step, we are not communicating; we only resort to talking, speaking, gossiping and rumour producing.
As companies go global, there are more challenges in communication when cultural factors are involved. Different values, norms and practices of things make it harder to communicate between you and your team around the globe. Clarifying and verifying information become all the more important. How could you do it effectively?
· Email is one way. But email correspondence can be confusing sometimes even when members of your team in different countries use the same language (due to varied levels of language proficiency and different interpretations).
· Follow up with a phone call after sending or receiving an email. From the tone and the pace of a speaker, you may catch something that is not evident in an email.
· Better still, have a video conference call. Through gestures and expressions, you may also detect things that are not visible in an email or an ordinary phone call.
Make a habit of verifying and clarifying things. Don’t allow excuses of time or other matters to get in the way of your communication with your team. Make extra efforts when yours is a global team. If your team is not even communicating, how could you possibly communicate with a team across the negotiating table, let alone expect to have a contract that is well understood by both and handled properly?
Have a comment? Want to share your thoughts and stories with me or our readers? Please send your email to us. We look forward to hearing from you!
© 2009 Jacqueline Wu & Olive Kan Global. All rights reserved.
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