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Resolve to be a Better Communicator

A study by the Joint Commission for Transforming Healthcare revealed that up to 80 percent of serious medical errors can be attributed to miscommunication among medical staff. The good news is that we can easily learn skills to help us communicate more effectively and improve our business and personal relationships.

Making effective requests of others is an integral part of good communication in the workplace and at home. But many of us haven’t learned how to deliver a concise request with clear expectations.

Oftentimes, we expect others to read our minds or intuitively know how to respond to our requests. But that typically leads to a ‘never mind, I’ll do it myself’ situation.

A simple request example is someone asking for a glass of water. Our shared background of obviousness makes it safe to assume that the water won’t be coming from the commode. But, will the water be bottled or a glass of tap water? Just because you like a cold bottle of water from the refrigerator doesn’t mean that the other person does. He or she might prefer tap water or something at room temperature.

Here are six elements of an effective request:

  • A speaker to deliver the spoken request
  • A committed listener who is competent to deliver on the request
  • Timeframe for accepting and completing the request
  • Understanding the context of the request – explain why
  • A speaker and listener emotionally receptive to a request
  • Clearly identified conditions of satisfaction

Requests are most effective when delivered in person, which often is at odds with the texting and emailing environments in which most of us operate. For effective communication in 2020, below are best practices on assessing the most efficient delivery method.

When texting may be best:

  • While traveling
  • When running late
  • When in danger
  • When sharing sensitive information while in public
  • When organizing a group gathering
  • When you’re able to communicate faster, such as tech support via text

Remember that texting can lead to feelings of intrusion, so always text with permission.

When to send an email:

  • When you need a record of the conversation
  • To fully convey thoughts on an important issue

Remember that it is helpful to write the way that you speak. Keep sentences short and make any calls to action obvious. While many of us rely heavily on email for our day-to-day interactions, a recent study of the U.S. workplace revealed that:

  • 89% of American workers say email, text, and voicemail get in the way of their workplace relationships
  • 87% of American workers say email is not an effective way to resolve workplace confrontations
  • 67% of senior executives say their organization would be more productive with face-to-face communication

When to call:

  • For efficiency: Why send a novel or go back and forth through text or email when you can condense it down to a two-minute phone call?
  • For quality: To properly relay a meaningful message
  • For a better emotional radar: People may question the attitude or meaning behind texts or emails
  • When interviewing for a job
  • When you need information: Perhaps you’re waiting on test results from a doctor, you would call to see if they’re in yet. Or, if your child’s school is calling, that’s a call you want to take. Scheduling appointments, though many can now be done online, is also a task that can be efficiently done over the phone.

Always remember to gauge your audience. Would they rather hear your voice than read a text or email message from you? Or is it easier for them to speak with you than type?