Even when we’ve done the work to truly be an example worth following – like we looked at last month – there’s still plenty of ways the cost of poor communication can impact the relationships we have with our friends and family. These costs are so significant in the business arena that I focused the entire fourth chapter of What’s Killing Your Profitability? on exactly that. As began making a case that would grab the attention of any business owner or executive, I shared stats from a study done by Grammarly and Harris Pole that I found in an article from early 2022 on BusinessWire.com saying that the “far-reaching impacts of poor workplace communication on U.S. businesses and employees” estimated “up to a $1.2 trillion annual loss among businesses die to ineffective communication.”
I thought our federal government was the only place that could lose that much money annually; prior to reading that article, I had no idea that poor communication could suck so much profit from the business community – even collectively! I did find a separate article called “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money” that at least helped me connect that huge number many of the smaller businesses I work with today. It said that “miscommunication costs smaller companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.”
That $420k is still way more than you or I can likely afford to leave on the back bumper of our car as we drive out of the parking lot, but (most of) our households probably deal with less than 100 people too… But if those numbers are even close to correct and poor communication really does cost businesses that much, how much is it costing us in our most important relationships?
Here’s where someone reading this is likely scowling at me for being a capitalist and suggesting that relationships have a financial tie… So be it, scowl away! I know poor communication has cost me plenty of money over the years, even when it was just between me and Cindy – and I feel like we understand one another fairly well. I suppose there is a chance someone reading this has never had that issue, though, but I’d guess anyone who thinks that is probably wrong about some other things, too!
Consider something as simple and as innocent as giving someone the wrong time to meet for dinner. I’ve done that plenty of times and I rarely do anything that’s not detailed on my calendar. Imagine I told you to meet me at Gobbler Grill at 5pm but I had it written down on my end for 6pm. You show up on time, because you’re accountable and not the scattered mess that I can tend to be when I’m juggling too many things. After patiently waiting for fifteen minutes or so, you call to make sure I hadn’t been abducted, only to find out that I’m frantically working to put the final few touches on some project I thought had to get squeezed in before I left. Since I thought I had 45 minutes left, I still had 15 minutes (in my mind) that I could work.
Now let’s say we both make $25/hr, just to keep it simple. If our jobs pay us that, our time off should be worth at least double! If you were willing to wait on me, my mistake would cost you no less than $50. But I’m guessing the impact it had on our relationship was even greater. While most of us have way more than $50 in the majority of our “relationship banks,” I believe that simple example paints a picture of just how much poor communication really can cost us – even with the best of friends or the closest of family. Unfortunately, this can compound quickly when we don’t have clear expectations, so we’ll pick up there next time…