January 29, 2010 — Good communication is overcommunication. Very few people overcommmunicate. Undercommunication is much more common. Undercommunication is also the cause of countless problems in business.
Instead of striving for some subjective "good communication", simply strive to overcommunicate. It's very unlikely you'll hit a point where people say "he communicates too much". It's much more likely you'll come up a bit short, in which case you'll be left with good communication.
Here are 4 tips that will bring you closer to overcommunicating:
1. Say the hard things. Often the hardest things to talk about are the most important things to talk about. If something is stressing you out, just say it. Getting it out there, even if not in the most eloquent way, is much better than not talking about it at all. A good strategy when approaching a hard subject is to bounce your approach off a neutral 3rd party to see if your angle is smart. Many times it's the other person who has something they're stressed about but isn't talking about. It's your job to be perceptive and ask them questions to get it out on the table.
2. Repeat yourself. People have bad memories and even worse attention spans. Repeat yourself. If something is very important, repeat yourself multiple times. If someone hasn't gotten the message, it's more likely your fault for not repeating yourself enough than it is their fault for not getting it.
3. Use tools. Email, Facebook, Google Wave, Basecamp, Skype, Gchat, Dropbox, Github, Sifter...these are just a sample of the modern tools you can use to communicate. Embrace them. Try different ones. Try pen and paper and whiteboards. Ideally you'll find two or three tools that cover all the bases, but don't be afraid to use multiple tools even if you have to repeat yourself across them a bit.
4. Set a regular schedule. Set aside a recurring time for communication. It could be once a week or once a day. Even if there's nothing new to talk about, it will help to just go over the important topics again as you can rarely repeat yourself too much.
That's it. Good luck!