Communication is the most important skill we can learn in our lives, yet it is the one we spend the least amount of time trying to perfect. Why is this? I believe it is because we take for granted other people are hearing what we say in the manner we intend. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Each of us hear in different ways. We process certain types of information as important and assign other types of information to the "static" zone. When we are preoccupied we miss a great deal of what goes on around us, even if we appear to be connected. Men and women hear differently as well. Women look for details and hidden meanings, men want the basics to be clear and concise. Communication is the hardest thing we do in our lives, we need to give it the most attention when we are attempting to lead or manage a group. Never take for granted those around you are hearing your words in the manner you mean them. Never take for granted you are being as clear as you can be. Always follow up on your communication to make sure it was heard correctly and acted upon in the manner you intended.
The difference in hearing. Some people are able to hear a list of requirements and file them away to be acted upon one at a time. Others need the basic "Now, do that, and come back and see me" so they don't wander off into la-la land. I liken this behavior to that of a teenager. My son always needed the phrase "and come back and see me" after each task he was assigned or he would assume he was finished and wander off to play his XBox. It didn't matter I had given him the full list before assigning the first task. I have had employees in the past that worked the same way. It may sound demeaning to say to your employee "and come back and see me" when they are finished with a task. Make it more polite "Would you mind filling me in the progress of your task when you are finished. I am busy and it would help me to have you remind me where we are at".
As a little experiment, play this game at your office or even at home. Make a statement. Something simple; i.e. "the sky is blue". Then ask each individual in turn what they heard you say? Make another statement. Something a little more complex. "Tomorrow is the end of our fiscal quarter and I need all billing in by 10 am". Ask them to repeat it. Then get harder. "Our mission statement for this company needs to be revamped, and I want each of you to give me three reasons why we should or should not keep in the current mission statement 2 things that are or are not working, by 3 pm, thank you." Have them repeat it back. Then give them the chore of following through. See who heard you and how acted upon what they heard. See who accomplished the task and how they did it. It will give you a good idea of how you are being heard, or even IF you are being heard. Have fun!!
But communication is two-sided - vital and profound communication makes demands also on those who are to receive it... demands in the sense of concentration, of genuine effort to receive what is being communicated.