As individuals, we send and receive innumerable messages every day. We communicate at a personal level with our families and friends, and at a more professional level, with our colleagues and team members. While it is a no- brainer that communicating effectively is one of the key skills everyone must master, it has become increasingly more crucial in the workspace.
To become a good leader, one must be able to inspire, stimulate and propel others into action. And at the heart of it all is proper communication. Here are 7 tips to follow in order to take your communication skills to the next level
Using long words and jargon might win you some points in an oratorical competition, but are a big no-no in everyday interactions. To communicate effectively, you must be able to convey your messages in the most clear and concise manner possible. Refrain from using ten words when only five will do, replace longer and difficult words with simpler alternatives, and keep fillers like uhh.., umm.., etc. to a minimum. The trick is to be comprehensible, and not eloquent.
We communicate with others not only through what we say but also through the way we say it. Studies show that words or vocabulary influence our communication by a mere 7% whereas our body language and tone have 55% and 38% impact respectively. While it is important to use the right words in order to get your point across to the other person, paying attention to your body language and tone is just as important. Use actions and gestures that support what you are saying while being mindful of conveying unwanted impressions to others.
While all of us like to have our opinions heard, most people tend to forget that communication is a two way process. People who refuse to listen to others make it impossible to have meaningful interactions. If you want to be heard, you must also give the other person right to be heard. Teach yourself to listen attentively instead of just hearing what the other person is saying. Avoid being judgmental or rigid, and learn to respect and work with difference of opinions.
Since our lives are so action driven, most of us accord a second class status to dialogue and fail to follow the etiquette associated with it. Even though having a discussion while writing an email or over lunch may seem convenient or time efficient, you are strongly advised not to. Trying to do other things while having a conversation not only gives the impression of the conversation being unimportant, it also distracts the speaker as well as listener from paying full attention to the discussion at hand. To work better, spend dedicated time communicating with others.
Any communication is rendered ineffective if all parties involved are not at the same plane of understanding at the end of the process. Here, giving and receiving immediate feedback makes communicating much easier. Do not refrain from asking questions if you are unclear about something the other person said, or if you require supplemental information. Encourage the same practice with your peers and team mates to promote better collaboration. Another thing to try is a short summation of the important points at the end of a meeting or discussion.
Being able to tailor your interactions according to the occasion and audience is an integral part of effective communication. Just like in everything else, in communication too, no one size fits all. Be perceptive to your audience and modify your talk to suit their needs. Learn to recognize the expectations of your listeners and to anticipate their responses before you throw yourself into a conversation. When it comes to having meaningful conversations, a little preparation goes a long way.
While establishing trust with your peers and colleagues is hard, what is harder still is living up to their trust and confidence in us. All your effective communication goes out for a toss the moment people start thinking of you as all talk and no action. Weigh your options before making commitments and once you’ve made a commitment, keep it. To maintain healthy relationships, being able to live up to what you have communicated is just as important as being able to communicate well.