The Black Holes of Communication

What is your top timewaster? Meetings? Communication? Micromanagers? You may be surprised to know that activities relating to communication typically cost people about two hours of wasted time every day. If you work an average eight-hour day, that’s 25% of your day gone to waste because of poor or mismanaged communication.

The causes of communication problems can be many, but it comes down to this – your ability to communicate. If you are unable to say “no,” “stop,” or ask the all-important “why” question, you are wasting time every day. Let me give you an example relating to meetings.

Most people go to meetings because they’re “supposed to” go to them. Why? To show that they’re a good employee? Nonsense! You can respectfully decline to attend meetings when the meeting adds no value to your work or you are unable to contribute value to the topic. If either of these apply, then decline the invitation with your reasons for doing so.

Email is another example. How often do you deal with communication from others when someone else should be dealing with it? Sometimes, we feel it’s the “polite” thing to do to take care of a request because it came to us, but that’s the wrong approach. Advise the sender that you aren’t able to assist them and in that same response to them, copy the person who can. There. You’ve just done double duty in one note.

And what about communicating to others? How are your communication skills? Do you say what you mean or do you skirt the issue? Be direct with your messaging. This saves time not only for you, but also for the recipient.

I recently blogged about micromanaging. This is an area where open and honest communication can really help eliminate timewasting. Sometimes the micromanager doesn’t even know that they’re micromanaging, let alone that they’re contributing to huge timewasting. If you’re under the thumb of a micromanager, call a time out and invite your micromanager to coffee. Point out how his/her micromanaging is impacting your work. You’ll both be better off because of the conversation.

To improve your productivity and gain time in your day, eliminate the black holes of communication by asking more questions (“why” is a powerful antidote), saying “no” more often (e.g., meetings), and speaking up about things that don’t feel right. Contrary to the popular song “Silence is Golden,” silence is not golden if it contributes to wasted time and energy.

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