Five Steps To Effective Global Communication

Imagine you are trying to explain a complex process to a colleague located in another country, during the conversation you realize that he or she is struggling to understand you. At this juncture rather than giving examples and further explanations, your best strategy is to apply a few basic communication techniques. Below I share with you five steps on how to effectively communicate with your colleagues no matter where they are in the world:

  1. Simplify. Many times miscommunication happens across culture because the language is hard to understand or details are not specific. Make your communication as easy to understand as possible.
    • Aim for short sentences – 12 words or less.
    • Simplify common or complicated language, instead of saying, “If it wouldn’t be too much trouble,” say, “Would you please?
    • Make time zones, locations and deadlines clear in all your correspondence and in your emails.
    • Do not use acronyms and idioms, and if you do use any, be sure to specify what they mean. Example, if you use the words, “ballpark figures,” tell them what those words mean, “I mean a general estimate of pricing.” Better yet, eliminate “ballpark figures,” and use “a general estimate of pricing.
  2. Confirm. It is not uncommon for two people in conversation to think they understand each other; however, many times each has a different understanding of the situation. For this reason, it is important to clarify what you are intending to say and confirm that the other person understands you. In order to ensure the message you want to convey is understood try the following:
    • Clarify what you are trying to say, use the following: “What I mean is…,” or “To clarify…
    • Check-in with the other person to be sure you understand them. “So what you are saying is….?” Or ask them to clarify a point.
    • Check to be sure the other person understood you: “What is your understanding so far?
  3. Organize. When your communication is structured and organized into sections with key points it becomes easier for others to understand your main points and they will be able to follow your communication. Structure your communication accordingly:
    • Divide your key ideas into numbers or letters with main points.
    • Use your hands and gestures to help structure important points when communicating face-to-face.
    • State the purpose of your email in the subject line.
    • Use headings to organize different topics.
  4. Reframe. Provide multiple ways of saying the same thing, this technique increases the chances of your being understood. You can do this by having alternative ways of expressing the same point:
    • If you notice that the way you are saying something is not working, try a different way.
    • Use analogies, metaphors, and stories, which help in making a point clear and will help your audience remember what you said.
  5. Use Examples. Provide the rationale behind your thinking it will make your intentions clearer to others. Using examples allows you to illustrate your points and your message will be heard. Reinforce concepts with examples:
    • When you present an idea or make a request, provide the “why” behind it. “Here is why getting this right from the beginning is crucial…
    • Use visuals to bring your points to life, use drawings, photos, pictures, and people will retain more information, because they will see what you mean.

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