Good Habits Lead to Good Communication

Where would we be in this life with no communication? The ability to communicate gets things done. As simple as the concept might be, there are many who cannot seem to comprehend the importance of good communication skills.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines communication as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviors.”
The workplace is the hub of communication exchange. This does not just apply to Fortune 500 companies and major names like Microsoft. The beauty of the concept is that it applies to companies of all sizes, employees of all income levels, and employees of all nationalities. Simply put, it applies to everyone and everywhere.
Communication Exchange
When speaking of information exchange, the concept applies to at least two people. One must speak, and the other listens. When the proposed information receiver is not listening, the speaker might be talking; however, they are not communicating. The information was never received.
Consider the magnitude of a successful exchange of information. Imagine a crane picking up a heavy object and moving it to a new location. The rigger is communicating with the crane operator via radio or using hand signals. The damage could be monumental if the operator fails to listen to the rigger. The rigger could signal a stop, but the operator continues to swing the load and, as a result, strikes an object or even worse, a person.
The communication exchange can only occur if both parties fully participate or engage. The crane operator has a much better chance of avoiding an unwanted strike of people or property if following the communication presented by the rigger.
Establishing the Medium
In the majority of cases, the method of communication is established by default. If a manager engages a supervisor by sending an email asking a question, the mode of communication of which the supervisor will utilize has already been established. The supervisor will respond by email because that was the source of engagement. Of course, the supervisor could alter the format, but typically the original medium remains in place.
In other scenarios, the communication medium must be established. Referring back to the crane operator and rigger, imagine the outcome if the rigger is attempting to communicate via radio, but the operator failed to board the cab with his own. Quite possibly, the two individuals failed to identify how they would communicate. Here, the operator is searching the ground for the rigger and looking for hand symbols. This can all be attributed to a lack of communication.
Proper pre-job planning is an ideal time to establish how communication will be routed. In the world of contracts, the signers typically find that one of the provisions for canceling a contract is through certified mail after a given period of time. The two individuals entering the contract know ahead of time the communication method required should either decide to part ways.
Follow Through
Individuals must refrain from relying on the second-hand delivery of information to recipients. This strikes accountability from the equation and increases the chances of unsuccessful delivery.
Consider an individual inspecting a man lift and discovers a deficiency that could lead to injury or incident. If the inspector tells another employee to tell the operator, potential harm could occur. That employee might not be trained well enough to understand the importance of the information to be relayed or could possibly get sidetracked. The result is the operator boards the equipment and uses it blindly, not knowing the potential harm that could take place.
Those who have something important to communicate should take the initiative to close the loop themselves. You cannot lie or fool yourself. Accountability is a strong dose of reality when given personally.
Make It a Habit
For those insisting on making a difference both in the workplace and their personal lives, start the journey with good communication. Make it a habit to communicate effectively. Choose methods that have a better chance of being used. If someone you work with struggles with email and rarely checks their account, adjust your communication game plan and pick up the telephone.
Look for confirmation that the information being communicated is successfully received. Crane operators and riggers practice this daily. Commands are repeated. If a coworker requests information from you, respond with an answer that repeats the heart of the question. We all remember having to answer questions in grammar school in complete sentences.
Finally, be consistent. We all have a better chance of effectively communicating our important information to others if we stick to a usual game plan. Adhering to a set of standards repeatedly assists in avoiding error. These all make for good habits in establishing our means of communication and also our receiving techniques. Just remember, it takes two to communicate, and you will not always be on the giving end of the communication exchange. This should guide all individuals in improving their skillset.
Nick Vaccaro is a freelance writer and photographer. Besides providing technical writing services, he is an HSE consultant in the oil and gas industry with eight years of experience. He also contributes to Louisiana Sportsman Magazine and follows and photographs American Kennel Club field and herding trials. Nick has a BA in Photojournalism from Loyola University and resides in the New Orleans area. 210-240-7188


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