I was mad. Really mad. I had an appointment with a client. He asked to reschedule because he said he would be out of the office all day the day we had scheduled to meet. I showed up at the company the day we were scheduled to meet in order to meet with one of his colleagues and out he walks. He’s there. I felt lied to and intentionally blown off.
He said nothing. I said nothing. I expected an apology or at least an explanation e-mail or phone call to come from him. I got nothing.
In inquiring about his presence at the office when he said he was going to be gone, I found out he was waiting on another person to leave for the day. He hadn’t lied, but he hadn’t clarified anything with me. I’m glad I did some inquiring before I blew off the handle at him, and I was embarrassed that I got so worked up about the situation. But it all could have been diffused if he had just informed me about what was going on, instead of leaving me assuming.
I often find that with business communication, we assume a lot. We assume people know certain things are happening, or we assume they have the information they need to complete a task, or we assume people think the best of us. More often than not, our withholding information by assuming leaves people, well mad. Like I was.
Taking on the mindset of informing others helps to steer communication in a way that does not leave unanswered questions.
Are you informing people enough? Consider this list from the coaching tool, For Your Improvement(maybe it’s not a coincidence that the book is referred to as FYI). If you find yourself thinking one or more of these statements describe you, then you’d be well served dropping a few more FYIs every now and then.
-Not a consistent communicator
-Tells too little or too much
-Tells too late; timing is off
-May be unclear; may inform some better than others
-May not think through who needs to know by when
-Doesn’t seek or listen to the data needs of others
-May inform but lack follow-through
-May either hoard information or not see informing as important
-May only have one mode- written or oral or e-mail
For more on improving communication: