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December 9, 2011 -
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Today's tip from Building Operating Management: Keeping three points in mind can help facility managers improve their communication skills.
1. Good communication starts off with understanding and meeting the needs of the audience. One good way to think about delivering a message within the workplace is to think about how you get communications outside of the workplace. With the rise of instant electronic media, like text messages, people are used to frequent and concise messages.
"It's like the USA Today version, where it's snapshots of information to keep people current," says John Finney, senior communication and change management consultant, Towers Watson. "It's a matter of frequency, simple clear content and really keeping people informed and engaged."
But people have a tendency either not to share information often enough or to share a lot of information without clear context or clear priority, says Finney.
2. Appropriate repetition and reinforcement are necessary. The average person is bombarded with more than 300 messages while at work, and multiples of that outside of work, Finney says. Getting a message to land with an audience might take as many as 12 repetitions, in some cases, he says.
3. Remember that everyone assimilates information differently. Facility managers should keep this in mind to get their messages across, says Cindy Stevens, associate professor, facilities planning and management program, Wentworth Institute of Technology.
"You're never really going to know what other people need, so you have to learn how to write conceptually and you have to learn how to write procedurally because some people are visually oriented, needing pictures and graphs, and other individuals need step-by-step exact directions with textual directions or flow charts," Stevens says. "You have to learn to write for both audiences. It can't be separated because you never know who is looking at your information."