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20 Ways Poor Communication is Wasting Your Time

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 29/03/2016 Dianna Booher
IPHONE CALANDER © Rawpixel Ltd via Getty Images IPHONE CALANDER

Time: You can't borrow it, buy it, or bottle it. Most everyone wants and needs more of it to get their work done and to enjoy their play. So how is poor communication sabotaging productivity and leisure? Let me count the ways:

  1. Complaining about things that are irrelevant or can't be changed.
  2. Failing to manage your inbox and file documents appropriately so that you're forced to continually reshuffle what's there to remind yourself what needs action when.
  3. Staring at the computer screen trying to decide how to begin an email before first thinking through the situation and identifying your key message and the action you want from the reader.
  4. Sending unclear, disorganized documents that cause readers to respond with questions rather than the expected action.
  5. Writing documents with grammar errors, causing people to have to reread and work to decipher the meaning.
  6. Copying too many people (or the wrong people) on emails, wasting their time to read irrelevant messages and information.
  7. Creating unclear forms for customers to complete and then repeatedly having to answer incoming questions about those forms -- while never thinking to clarify the forms.
  8. Creating unclear forms for employees to complete and then automating an "invalid response" reply to them without pointing out the error to be corrected.
  9. Inviting inappropriate people to meetings, resulting in time-wasters like explanations "to bring everyone up to speed" and off-topic discussions.
  10. Conducting a meeting without key decision makers in the room, thereby making it necessary to have to conduct the meeting again later when the decision makers are present.
  11. Running a poorly facilitated meeting and letting discussions ramble off track, ending with no clear conclusions or recommendations and no assigned responsibilities.
  12. Giving unclear management briefings that lead to faulty decisions, which eventually result in unprofitable or "do-over" projects.
  13. Failing to answer questions adequately, often giving the "quick" answer for the immediate situation but omitting the "why" explanation so that the answer serves the asker for the long term.
  14. Listening half-heartedly to conversations so that the message has to be repeated.
  15. Listening inattentively to instructions and feedback, resulting in mistakes and rework.
  16. Mediating conflicts between individuals who don't get along because of personality clashes but who must cooperate to get work done.
  17. Arguing with customers over mistakes in service rather than correcting the internal problem.
  18. Permitting turf wars to continue among factions, departments, and divisions that refuse to communicate and cooperate across functional lines.
  19. Sending duplicate messages in attempts to "get through" (that is, sending a text message, an email, and voicemail).
  20. Leaving disorganized, excessively long voicemail messages.

The "soft skills" represent hard dollars in lost productivity every day in the workplace -- a loss of far more hours than any CEO wants to calculate.

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