We’re all told communication is important. Why? Because lack of communication and miscommunication are often the two leading reasons for failure.

So why then do we so often mess up or communicate poorly? I believe there are six basic reasons:

  1. We don’t know what we don’t know—Sometimes, we have knowledge gaps we’re unaware of and can’t address them because they don’t exist as far as we know.
  2. We’re afraid of being wrong—Nobody likes to be wrong, particularly in a work setting. So people often hold back on communicating things we’re not confident about, whether it’s something that might lead us to a failure or something that might expose a topic we don’t understand.
  3. We filter communication through our lenses—We all have a perspective, and sometimes something that’s so obvious to us, that we think it doesn’t need to be said, is something someone else has no idea about.
  4. Others filter our communications through their needs, insecurities, life experiences—The flipside of our lenses, sometimes others hear our communications incorrectly or don’t hear them at all, because of their own filters.
  5. Too many ways to communicate—People used to have basically two ways to communicate: say it to someone or write it down for them. Today, those are just starting points, with email, voicemail, text messaging, SharePoint, internal message boards, online forums, video conferencing, live streaming, audio downloads… if it’s a method someone’s unfamiliar or inexperienced with, or one not well-suited to the message, the communication can be lost.
  6. We rush and make assumptions without establishing trust—In the hurry to get through a project and get the word out we may not put together the most effective message. Combine that with the way certain things like tone may not come across well in writing or and sometimes your intended audience can get the wrong impression, particularly if they’re already anxious about what you’re communicating.

When putting together you communications, keep these causes of failure in mind so you can consider and head off these issues as you reach out. The best way to accomplish that is by beginning with a plan.

Stay tuned! Next blog: Your plan for communications success.