With most communication done on screens today, it’s easy to feel disconnected from those around you. However, as a business owner, it’s imperative that you have good, solid communication between your employees, customers, and investors. Our guest today says the only way forward is to start talking to each other. In her latest book, We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter, Celeste Headlee, outlines strategies and provides the tools to improve your communication and have better conversations with the people around you. In addition to being an author, Celeste is also a speaker and an award-winning journalist who has appeared on NPR, PBS, and CNN.
Celeste began her career as a communication expert largely in part due to the loss of meaningful communication she observed in the general public. “We’re talking more than we ever have before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re actually having conversations or successfully communicating,” Celeste explains.
In the business landscape, the number one cause of project failure worldwide is miscommunication, and the number one cause of miscommunication is the overuse of email. At first glance, email may appear more efficient, however, when you talk to someone face to face, and they don’t understand what you’re saying, you can see their confusion. That nuance is lost when emails are traded back and forth.
While we may appreciate the convenience of email and its perceived time-saving effects, the only areas it truly fosters efficiency are sending agendas or attachments, sending long messages, and sending or receiving praise. Everything else is more efficient either face to face or over the phone.
Human beings are really good at picking up communication signals from facial expressions and body language, it’s the way our biology adapted over time. By limiting our communication to digital spheres, we are cutting off a huge amount of information that we need.
To build your communication skills and advance them forward, Celeste suggests practice. Stop texting or emailing for everything, and limit email answering to work hours only. Pay more attention to in-person interactions, and give them the value that they deserve.
When communicating messages to different groups of people, Celeste says you don’t have to change your delivery style. Humans do that subconsciously based on who they’re speaking with; called codeswitching. Don’t waste other people’s time. Stay focused and stay brief.