Insurance and Communication
Thursday, November 1, 2012
As always, I try to write about relevant topics that apply to all of us. Recently, communication has been at the top of my list, so I thought sharing some insights about what I’ve learned would be helpful. As we are training our staff for various situations, communication has been at the forefront of our leadership team lately. It is also vitally important as our staff works with homeowners, our sales team works with clients, and employees communicate across teams. What I have found is that the landscape of communication is changing. We are now battling an extreme amount of “noise.” Factors such as, facebook, twitter, texting, emailing, pintrest, etc. are major players, and the distractions seem endless. What’s worse is that we are not only battling these tangible factors, we are also adjusting to a whole new style of communication; 140 characters or less. As a result, our attention span is dwindling down to nothing, and our ability to concentrate on what is being said does not exist. Therefore, as communicators, we need to be diligent in adjusting and continuously refining our skill.
With all that being said, what do we do? What I’m finding is that we, as communicators, need to do a better job in a few areas:
- First, when deciding to disseminate information, we need to first take time to think and boil everything down into succinct bullet points. Everyone has so much going on. It has become increasingly easier to fire off emails, or pick up your cell phone, or charge into someone’s office the moment an idea strikes. We expect the receiver to comprehend what we are trying to communicate before we even understand it ourselves. Taking time to think through what we want to communicate and writing it down in a clear and concise manner are imperative for effective communication.
- Once we have our thoughts down and know what we want to communicate, we then need to decide what medium to use; whether that be letter, email, phone, text or face to face. Shooting off a text message without much thought can lead to disastrous results (we are all familiar with “autocorrect”). If written communication is the general desired medium, decide which specific one is best considering the content, and then make sure you reread your letter, email, or text without your inflections before sending. That way, you can get a feel for how it will be received. If you decide to meet face to face, it is imperative to be clear and respectful of the other person’s time; we are all busy. Phone calls should be viewed the same as face-to-face meetings: clear, time conscious, and to the point.
- The last piece of better communication is setting the right expectation. If we have clearly and concisely communicated, then the listener should have no trouble understanding what is expected of them. In this last phase, the communicator should ask the listener to restate what was discussed, clearly communicating back any action points on their part. In this way, the right expectation is set, and there is much less chance for important tasks to go undone because of “miscommunication.”
We can all become great communicators- the key is consistency, or practicing what we preach. If we are consistent in our communication, chances are, we will have more recipients who understand our message and there will be more that is successfully accomplished as a result.