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Have you ever experienced a moment when you realized that the thing you asked your staff, teammates, or even your children to do yesterday still hasn’t been done – even when you gave them very clear instructions? It’s easy to point blame, but consider this: it could be they really didn’t hear what you thought you communicated.

We often don’t effectively reach our goals because we fail to take into account how we communicate. Studies have shown that communication is the most common thing managers do, spending 60% to 80% of their time communicating with their teams. However, stats also suggest most managers are bad communicators. In one relevant survey, 86% of managers thought they were good communicators, but only 17% of the employees surveyed said their managers did indeed communicate effectively. Another survey uncovered that only 14% of people rated their managers as “good” or “very good” communicators.

Even if you’re not a manager, realizing the importance of good communication is still your responsibility. The hours wasted on projects that have to be redone because of the lack of communication between coworkers is staggering. Similarly, the job seeker often struggles with how to communicate their skills in a way that sets them apart.

Changing the way you communicate isn’t easy, but I do have three simple words to help you make this change easier: Repeat, Confirm and Clarify!

REPEAT what you thought you heard or ask those receiving the instructions to repeat what they heard. You might be surprised at how their understanding of what you said is actually quite off.

Secondly, CONFIRM the deadlines. Everyone must understand the expectation and urgency of the matter at hand. For example, job seekers should always confirm when they should expect to next connect after an interview. Say things like, “If I don’t hear from you by this date, can I follow up?” This keeps the process and line of communication moving.

Lastly, CLARIFY how to communicate back that the duty or task is done. Is a presentation in order? Will a phone call suffice? Find a tangible example of how this communication will take place.

A plan to Repeat, Confirm and Clarify may sound simple, but it can be a challenge if you’re in a rush to get back to a project or move on to the next one. It also gets more complicated the more people you have to communicate with.

So ask yourself if there’s evidence you might need to develop a better communication strategy. If so, take time and effort to truly be heard, simply starting with three simple words: Repeat, Confirm and Clarify.

Once you master this approach consistently, you’ll like the answer you get when asking, “Can you hear me now?!”