By R. Christopher Haines, President and CEO

One of the biggest problems I observe throughout my day-to-day life is communication. And it’s probably my biggest pet peeve. I struggle to understand how it’s so difficult for some people to communicate. It see it at work, in the organizations I participate in outside of work, and in my personal life. It’s really not that hard. Since I’m sure most of you like to know what’s going on, I’m sure you appreciate good communication, too.

I can’t figure out why some people can’t communicate. I really believe it has nothing at all to do with education and intelligence. I know some very smart people who have no idea how communication works. They’ve taken classes in school called “Communications” but still seem not to know how to communicate. It’s not an extrovert or introvert thing because it’s not like you have to stand up in front of 50 people and talk. You could just send a message.

Why people can’t communicate is probably a question to which I will never find the answer. But I think these are the basics:

  1. Keep people informed. Everyone wants to know what’s going on. Whether it be a project for work or when you’ll be home for supper. Let them know!
  2. Tell the whole story. Be precise, especially if you’re communicating via email. Many of us get a ton of email and don’t need the additional emails it takes to go back and forth one question at a time on something that could have been conveyed completely in one email.
  3. Next, this isn’t a guessing game. Put yourself in the shoes of the people on the other end of your communication and assume they know nothing about what you’re trying to say.
  4. And since we’re mainly talking about written communication here, take the 30 seconds and proofread what you wrote so people don’t think less of you while reading your typo- and error-laden messages.

Personally, I try to over communicate. If anyone reading this feels differently about me, I apologize. And I probably talk too much. But it’s my intent to always make sure everyone I interact with gets the information they need from me. I also try to do it in a timely manner. I hate when I stand between someone and what they need to know — or maybe not need to know but deserve to know.

And communication can go both ways. If someone is taking the time to try to communicate with you, pay attention. Listen to what’s being said, or read what they’ve taken the time to write. They’re trying to keep you informed.

The only thing worse than not being communicated with is not listening when someone is trying to communicate with you.