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Keep misunderstandings at bay

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

If you’re perceived as a sloppy communicator, your career can sputter. Admiration for you will fade if you’re often at the center of misunderstandings or disputes.

Here’s how to boost your communication skills so that you speak clearly and break logjams:

1. Identify assumptions. Before making commitments, get into the habit of saying, “I’m assuming that …” By voicing at least one or two assumptions, you give others a chance to correct you. Examples include, “I assume you’ll reserve the room and bring the background material we need,” or, “I’m assuming I should check back with you next Monday.” When you discuss your assumptions, you encourage others to do the same. This reduces the odds of misunderstanding.

2. Make explicit promises. State what you intend to do in bold, specific terms. Don’t skate around your intent to gather data or otherwise follow through. Avoid vague remarks such as “I’ll take care of that.” Instead, spell out what you’ll actually do: “I’ll interview five or six participants in the dispute, investigate any governing laws and write up my recommendations by next Friday.”

3. End with confirmation. When you make plans, summarize them before you move on. Say, “Just to confirm” or “Let’s review.”

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