How to avoid miscommunication

Think before you speak - Before entering a conversation, take a moment to organize your thoughts and prepare what you’re going to say.

Get the other person’s attention - If they seem distracted or in the middle of doing something else, consider trying to have the conversation at another, more convenient time.

Check your assumptions -
This is particularly true if you’re talking to a non-native speaker. If someone looks confused by what you’re saying, try to explain it in a different way.

Be courteous -
Try and avoid using sarcasm if you can. Although meant to be funny, sarcasm is often misunderstood and doesn’t belong in a candid and respectful conversation.

Check for understanding -
It is also a good idea to add a quick summary at the end of the conversation. At that point, the other person can also voice any concerns they might have.

Follow up -
This step is particularly important if you fear there may have been a miscommunication. 

Understand body language -
Do your best to maintain eye contact and make note of the person’s posture and facial expressions, to see if there are any inconsistencies.

Listen closely -
Do your best to ignore any distractions and to avoid preempting what the other person is going to say. This is a common but quite destructive listening habit.

Avoid interrupting -
If you have a tendency to interrupt people often, they may not communicate all they wish to say, out of mere frustration.

Ask questions -
If, when the person has finished speaking, there is anything you’re unsure about, be sure to ask some questions.

Use fewer words -
As a general rule, when it comes to emails, the fewer words the better. A very long or wordy email can often confuse people as to what you’re trying to say.

Focus on one topic -
If you absolutely cannot avoid addressing multiple topics in a single email, be sure to delineate them clearly, for example by using bullet points.

Get to the point -
Get to your point quickly, although politely. Pleasantries, for example, are not strictly necessary, although they are acceptable if brief.

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