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Time management - Poor communication

Poor communication

Wrong message

If the communication is poor then the message received will be hard to understand and can easily lead to confusion.
The aim is to provide enough information to make the meaning absolutely clear without going over the top.

Too much information can seriously affect the concentration of the listener.

  • The message should be non ambiguous without trying for perfection.
  • It should be concise and accurate.


A few simple points should keep communication on the right track.

  • Explain why you are communicating. What is the purpose?
  • Decide how you will do it, for example, letter, email, presentation, video conference, telephone etc. Make it concise and accurate.
  • If you are communicating verbally, make it clear, to the point and don’t drift off track.
    Before going any further check that the recipient has understood by getting feedback.
    Know your audience. Different people may need a modified approach to get the message across.


We have spoken about the traps in poor communication but if your own listening skills are poor then you are not going to receive the right message.
Many people are only taking in about 25% of what you tell them.

To help you absorb the information:

  • Pay attention and concentrate.
  • Try to remove distractions.
  • Write the information down.
  • Ask clarifying questions if you are unsure.
  • Don’t interrupt unless necessary.

Clear meaning

This happens on a couple of levels.
Individual words and phrases can be confusing with out additional clarifying statements.

If a person says, ‘It’s OK, it doesn’t cost very much’, what does that mean?
One person’s view of low cost could be £10 to £30 and another £100 to £200.

It is important to make the exact meaning clear.

If your boss gives you some instructions and then goes away for a few days make sure you understand what they want and write it down.
Also, you may need to communicate their intentions to other personnel.

If a colleague wants an item ‘early next week’ ask if it is Monday or Tuesday.
That same person may actually mean ‘as soon as possible’.
What does this mean? Make sure you have an accurate deadline.

‘I want it on Wednesday’ but is this in the morning or afternoon?

Be absolutely clear.

Non verbal cues

Visual cues can make up as much as 70% of the communication.
We tend to pick up on many of these but others are more subtle.

We have mentioned one before. By standing up during a conversation it gives the impression that you are about to go some where, or are busy, thus making the other person a little uncomfortable drawing the chat to an earlier conclusion.

We tend to see ‘crossed arms’ as a little defensive.

If you walk into someone’s office as you are passing, to ask a question, and they immediately look at their watch we know what it means.
There are many books on this subject if you want to go a lot deeper.

Ask questions

If in doubt ask.
The trouble is we have all had the experiences at school or in a conference where we do not want to raise our hand to ask a question for fear of feeling foolish.
The only answer is to plan your attack before hand and force your self to ask a question, even if it is premeditated. In this way you may face your fears.
For the most part you will be only asking the question on every one else’s lips.

Non - PRINCE2 information