Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A breakdown in communication

The classic line or tag of blame, we've all been there "It seems to be down to a breakdown in communication."

Ah yes a breakdown in communication. Why is it us humans find it so hard to communicate effectively with one another?

Working in a comms role you constantly come across different means of communication available to us all nowadays and how best to do it digitally in particular.

So why is it that as time has gone on and we've got more ways to communicate with one another, we seem to find it harder. Is anyone really expressing what they want to say?

I'm no exception. The majority of the time I probably don't say what I think, at risk of offending.

In a country where people are obsessed with being politically correct, it's no wonder people don't often say how they feel.

I love to talk, but when it comes to talking frankly about something upsetting me I clam up. Rather than telling my boyfriend I'm upset, for example, quite often I'll scribble a note instead. Or I'd rather get angry and into a tiff with my boyfriend before I'll eventually breakdown and say what's bothering me.

We seem to live our lives tiptoeing around others without communicating properly. In this digital age it is now so easy to hide behind a Facebook status, strongly worded email or text message. The idea of talking face to face seems intimidating to people now and so the opinion or instructions you are trying to relay get lost.

Those who work in an office will know how much communication goes on over email, instant messaging or internal chat systems - most often with those in the same room, or on the same desk as you. Mad but true.

I've worked with technical teams throughout my working career (my whole 8 years' worth) and have found issues however they are set up. In the same office, in another office, in another country - no matter what there is always confusion, arguments and complaints.

Working in office environments for years it is evident how bad various departments are at talking to one another.

The problem is we're all set in our own ways and how we like to handle things. So nobody wants to back down or take influence from anyone else's style or approach - hence nobody learns, they communicate in their own way and the messages get lost.

Brits I think are worse as there is the whole 'stiff upper lip' outlook. On our train we avoid eye contact and people don't smile at one another. Someone annoys us on the train, we say nothing until our anger and frustration at their behaviour builds up and up.

I've had work instances where people seem to fall into a pattern of not talking to other offices/departments about how they feel and how they want to work together. In turn they let their annoyances build up and go to their seniors first before talking to their peers, leading to a bigger issue than was there in the first place and causing a 'situation' for the company.

Someone bothers another in a group of friends, it's easier to bitch about them and post a negative message via social media to get your point across. What happened to good old fashioned talking?

I get so frustrated in work situations when things aren't communicated properly at work internally. When you're all from the same company and are all trying to achieve the same results overall why not work together? Why not keep people informed?

I am probably guilty of over-communicating in some situations at work as I like everyone to know all the facts. If I don't know what's happening with my clients or where I stand in my role or future prospects I can't stand it. Therefore I'll do notes and bullet points galore about anything I've been involved in. Again to me this works, but to others I probably annoy them bothering them with info they likely don't even need to know.

So the next time you want to know what your friend really thinks, you think a colleague has let you down, your loved one has upset you, step back and be a bit old fashioned for a change... Talk and say what you really think. Perhaps we could start a 'new' way of communicating trending?

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