|I meant what I said but I didn't say what I mean|
I hate it when things aren't clear.
It is so easy not to understand coworkers. You have a conversation. Your colleague has ideas
in her heads that you discussed with her. You have an interpretation about what you heard her say. Add it up and you have a recipe for misunderstanding.
get disappointed that they weren’t understood and then out comes the finger
pointing and a blame game begins. This happens all the time in most work environments. Most people are lazy and don't take the time to make sure both parties understand the same facts. And when you add a third, fourth or fifth person to the equation--- it can be a disaster and a breakdown in communications.
I have a simple solution that uses a method that is common to most marketing professionals (as well as others who understand the importance of the written word). This is not complicated but requires upfront work once a conversation has been completed.
In the world of marketing, we write a brief
about a project. It is how we articulate with as much clarity as possible, a
project we want to undertake with an agency or department within our
organization. In it we spell out the details to establish clarity.
Background and Context: We describe the situation
Objective and Goal: What
are we trying to achieve.
Requirements: What are the requirements of the action that
must occur such as if we are running a promotion, it has to be checked by
legal department before launching, it must be consistent with our brand
Who does what? This
outlines responsibilities. The brand manager will do X and the agency will do
Y. It is the job of Z to be kept
well-informed by both parties.
Who is the target audience?
Are you trying to reach new customers, consumers, the trade, journalists,
stakeholders, investors, etc?
What is the Timeframe When do we start and when do we end the
What is the Project Budget How
much is available to spend?
What is evidence of Success? How will we know we succeeded? What
will be our instrument to measure we achieved our goal? (Number of articles
written about the product, mentions online, leads in the sales funnel, etc)
My suggestion is that when you are asked to participate in a
project, write an email back to the project leader or sponsor. In it, try and
be as specific as possible about what you understand about the activity and what
is your responsibility. A project leader should start with this type of brief-
but if they don’t take the onus and put it in writing. As I wrote about in my post about active listening, you won't have clear communications unless you have clear confirmation of understanding.
This is what I understand from our discussion today.
We are working to get an outside agency who will help us with an independent audit of our XYZ report.
You have informed me of the
following: The project agreement with this agency is for 3 months costing
$5,000 and we want them to do the following three things—A, B and C.
In this project, we are trying to influence journalists so they will
change their perception about us regarding our materials used in making
My role is to do these three things- 1, 2 and 3 no later than 30
days from completion of the report. We have a budget not to exceed $5,000.
will be measured by achieving five articles published within 6 months of the report's distribution that more accurately
depicts the facts about our ingredients.
Did I miss anything?
the point and clear. Your colleague can read what you understood and share with you
any changes or misunderstandings before hand. Now, you are both on the same page. The burden is on the listener to seek confirmation. Take responsibility for what is expected of you. Be brief and
to the point. It will help avoid misunderstandings and it will create more positive outcomes.
Was I brief enough?
Labels: Active listening, clarification, clarity, communications, marketing briefs, Marketing Moments