miscommunication represented by a vector drawing showing two businesspeople trying to communicate by way of tin cans and tangled string

3 Tips for Reducing Miscommunication

At its core, good business is built on trust. By cultivating trust with your clients you’ll be able to build long-term relationships, increase customer loyalty, and enhance your reputation. At the same time, trust is infamously slow to build and often quick to lose. So it’s essential to focus on developing good business habits to build, maintain, and reinforce trust. Unfortunately, miscommunication can quickly render trust null and void.

There are many ways to build and maintain trust, and effective communication is one of the most important. By the same token, miscommunication can be a poison to trust. Miscommunicate too often and you risk eroding that essential foundation. Here are three tips to keep in mind so you can reduce miscommunication and gain trust by keeping your business practices consistent.

1. Keep Details Crystal Clear to Avoid Miscommunication

Clarity is one of the keys to effective communication. The clearer you can be—the more you can keep important details in focus—the better. Being transparent with clients could be as simple as providing accurate information. For example, if a client orders a product from your website, notify them about when they can expect delivery. Provide simple, yet essential, information like this on thank you screens or in follow-up emails to set realistic expectations. And always make sure it’s accurate!

Other, more complex kinds of information can be a bit trickier to convey. If you specialize in selling certain kinds of software, for instance, your clients will need to learn how to use it properly. If the client can’t understand how that software works in a reasonable period of time, they could become frustrated and ask for a refund. In turn, they may also lose trust in your company’s ability to understand its own product, potentially jeopardizing your reputation.

If your business deals in more complicated products like this, think about how you could communicate product information to your clients more effectively. Offer tutorials or other demos to provide a more in-depth, “first-person” kind of understanding so they know exactly what they’re buying. Offer live demos via apps like Zoom or create detailed, step-by-step directions with a professional screenshot app. The more able you’re able to effectively convey business expectations and deliver on them, the more you will avoid miscommunication and the more trustworthy you will be.

2. Be Aware of Cultural Differences

In today’s global marketplace, it’s not uncommon for your business to reach the interests of consumers and partners from other cultures. This is a wonderful thing. It’s incredible that people from different backgrounds can share in each other’s interests, doing business across the world. However, it’s also a prime opportunity for miscommunication to rear its ugly head.

Communication norms are some of the biggest cultural differences that may emerge in a business setting. People who primarily speak Japanese or Chinese, for example, may be misunderstood by those from western cultures. Because these languages are high-context, people speaking them often rely on subtle cues or linguistic hints to convey their meaning. People who speak low-context languages such as English or German can misinterpret these cues or miss them entirely. Conversely, people from Western cultures may come across as too direct, blunt, or rude to those from high-context cultures.

As you can imagine, these cultural differences apply whether you’re speaking with a client or a business partner. To reduce the risk of miscommunication, research the basics of the cultural background you’ll be interacting with. Learn and ask about what common business practices they might expect based on their cultural norms. Likewise, share some of your own expectations for doing business, checking in to ensure all parties understand the terms. These sorts of deliberate meta-conversations will help mitigate the chances of miscommunicating.


3. Be Aware of Internal Miscommunication (Time Zones)

The merging of different cultures and languages isn’t the only challenge of operating a business in the modern global marketplace. Remote work also presents myriad opportunities for misunderstanding, whether from asynchronous emails and Slack threads or wrongly scheduled meetings. Though remote work can offer a host of benefits to employers and employees alike, it’s not without its challenges. So if your company employs remote workers, it’s essential to nail your communication with them.

Thankfully, reducing the frequency of miscommunications with your remote workers can be relatively straightforward. Maintain regular check-ins to ensure everyone is operating on the same page. Offer opportunities to clarify any confusing information, and take feedback about how communication channels could be improved.

Additionally, make sure you keep everyone’s timetables in order. It’s easy to wrongly schedule a meeting when you’re dealing with employees in multiple time zones. Using a good digital calendar or project management software to keep everyone’s schedules aligned. You’ll increase productivity by ensuring no one misses an essential meeting due to a simple time-zone miscalculation again.


Practice the Fundamentals

At their core, all businesses are built on human relationships. Relationships, in turn, are built on trust, so it’s essential you work to ensure people trust you and your business. Miscommunication can permanently erode the foundation of trust your business is built upon, so focus on improving your organization’s communication skills. Running a business can be a rewarding and exciting undertaking, but don’t forget to attend to the fundamentals as you grow.