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January 09, 2012

The Top Five Reasons Communications Fail

By David Vaughan, Director of Projects, TSG Global

Have you ever noticed that some of the best thought out plans to communicate often fail, and yet something so simple and seemingly easy, which are always dismissed as stupid or far-fetched, garners the majority of attention?

Look at television commercials as an example for which you remember more; the CEO of a large wireless carrier speaking on what makes their network better or the tasty snack tortilla chip with a dog exacting revenge on his owner in the park with a shock collar. 

What’s the difference between the two of them?  Why does one easily capture more memory than another?  The CEO speaking on his company is from the heart and full of facts, the commercial with the dog is full of fantasy and could never happen.  The CEO is speaking about a product while the tortilla chip (did you even remember it was about a chip in the end?) was probably the last thing anyone recalled by the time it was over.

The answer is communication failure, or even better connection failure.  The issue we often find is the disconnection with what is being communicated to us. 

Below are the top five reasons for communication connection failure.  Each is a valid point and for different people and businesses the order of the list can be just as different.  I have placed the order of the list as I have felt businesses fail to communicate or connect effectively with me. 

1. Complex Messages: The use of complex technical terms is the general cause of these lacks of communication. The remedy is to stick to the point and use clear and concise messages that are easy to understand.

2. Withholding Information: This goes with number 1 in my book.  Too often we are handled like children or with kid gloves and administered the need to know basis.  The problem is, these aren’t state secrets and we are not James Bond.

3. Different Status: This boils down to, telling one group certain information and telling another group something else.  This comes too close to lying in my book, keep the playing field level and even, tell everyone the same thing.

4. Ineffective Communication Processes: Rolling right along with keeping what is said the same; everyone in the company needs to communicate the same thing in the same way.  This is tricky, but you really need to let the entry-level people in your team be able to state the same as the department manager would.  Remember, the people that interact with your clients the most are the ones who are often told the least.  Now does that make sense to you?

5. Lack of Trust: The most important reason for the lack of communication in the company is the thought that someone may say something to the wrong person or say something the wrong way…or even worse say the truth!  It’s always best policy to start with the truth and then you don’t have to worry about covering a lie.  Honestly your clients will love you for it.

 I am sure someone else can come up with a different order or a different list or completely replace the list I have written and that is fine, but no matter what you should take the list I have given and examine how you feel about each.  Ask, does this apply to my company, my life?  Then let’s begin working on repairing this list and eliminating them one by one.  

David Vaughan is an industry veteran of telecom, now Director of Projects at TSG Global, Inc. To read more of David's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca
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