Most of the time, when it is about communications, the answer lies within the details.
We hear the news and share the headlines with our peers. What amazes me is how the stories are different even when we listen to the exact same report. Check it out next time and ask someone if they heard about a certain news story. Ask what their understanding was.
It is easier to communicate in face-to-face meetings by observing body language. If the best communication tool you have is the phone, listen closely to the voice, the tone, speed, softness, loudness, emotions and so forth. Paying attention to these other things will help you better understand what the person is communicating.
I always enjoy the post-discussion review with others regarding meetings, discussions or presentations we attend. Sometimes I actually feel like I was at a different one. Yes and occasionally it is me who may check out for a bit or miss some details. For the most part, I tend to pick up those little details that may not seem important at the time, yet they could make a big difference.
Paying attention, making an association so you remember their name is a good exercise to stay focused. The same goes with the rest of the communication. Listen attentively, ask questions, be engaged and take notes. This is worth repeating: take notes at meetings in person and over the phone.
Summarize the discussion at certain points so everyone has a good understanding of what is being discussed. Be the first one to e-mail a summary of the meeting minutes with action items. Everyone in attendance will appreciate it. You will be seen as someone who understands, cares and who makes a difference.
Nodding our head and going with the flow is the easy way to communicate, yet it may not be the most effective. Ask questions, take notes and be in the moment to embrace the details.