Workplace communication is particularly challenging, we often have to communicate with our peers, other company departments as well as people in roles above and below us. Some of us even need to communicate to all people company wide!
Each of these inter-relationships have different dynamics and challenges, meaning sometimes we don’t always communicate effectively. Often, communication is hard, messy and totally ineffective at getting a point across. While bad communication can create distance or damage relationships with colleagues and business partners, working on and increasing communication effectiveness can lead to better team and workplace cohesion, a greater understanding of our workmates and improved success.
We communicate both orally and non verbally, however most of the time we focus on the verbal part, the actual words being spoken. Although spoken communication and listening are essential parts of communicating most of us neglect the non-verbal part of interaction.
Using the following tried and tested skills can change the outcome of your conversations and lead to greater understanding of what others are trying to tell you as well as how to communicate with other people. Put these tips into practice and improve your working and personal relationships and elevate your communication to new heights.
1. Slow Down and Listen to What Others have to Say
“Listen more than you talk.” This is what Richard Branson suggests we do when interacting with others both personally and professionally. To communicate effectively, first listen to what others have to say. Then you can provide an insightful answer that shows you have taken the ideas of the communicator onboard.
People like to know that they are being heard and understood. Instead of focusing on formulating a response while the other person is speaking try to really listen to what the communicator is saying. Ask for clarification to avoid misinterpretation. Ensure you have no other distractions that can take up your attention, including emails, texts or phone calls. Giving the other person your full undivided attention will give them the impression you are making a big effort to fully understand and engage with what they have to say.
In addition Branson goes on to explain that listening is one of the reasons he always carries a pen and notebook, around to document this thoughts. “You never know what you might learn from simply listening to the people around you.”
2. Learn to Speak Publicly
For some of us Public Speaking is not one of our strengths, we can be reluctant to get up and speak before a group. For those of us who are managers and in top company roles, a reluctance to speak to a group will be a hinderance to our careers.
Although Managers find themselves needing to speak publicly on a regular basis, for the rest of us, public speaking is a still a great skill to have. Like so many other skills, public speaking gets much easier each time you have the confidence to stand up and talk to a group. Start practicing now.
3. Write Better Emails
The more you progress in your career, the more the importance of effective communication skills increases. We spend most of our time emailing, to our co-workers, suppliers, clients and prospects. Often email is your first opportunity to make a good impression.
A sloppy written email will result in a poor first impression and can waste the receivers time, especially if it is hard to understand and full with spelling mistakes.
Learn to write better emails, your employees will understand you better and you will spend less time having to explain yourself and repeat things. If you are responding to an email, ensure you read and re-read the email before crafting a response, so you understand all that was said.
PRO TIP: Learn to adjust your communication to the people you are emailing. Some people prefer bullet points and to the point communication, whereas others like warm, positive and upbeat emails. Try and get to know a little bit about the receivers behaviour from a Behavioural Assessment or other colleagues. This will make a great impression, especially if it is your first time connecting with the receiver.
4. Learn the basics of Nonverbal Communication
If you really need or want to excel at communication then try and gain a deeper understanding of nonverbal communication, to help you decipher what is not being said as well as what is.
One study found that nonverbal communication accounted for 55 percent of how an audience perceived a presenter. That means that the majority of what you say is communicated not through words, but through physical cues. We communicate through our tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language.
To communicate more clearly and effectively maintain proper posture, try to avoid slouching, crossing your arms or filling with your hands or pieces of paper. Instead fill up the space you are in and keep open body language, ensure you maintain eye contact and use your hands to gesture and illustrate your point.
Evaluating nonverbal communication can help shift the tone of a tense conversation and create a shared understanding.
5. Get to Know Your Audience
Effective communicators always target their message based on the person (or people) they are speaking to. Each audience is different, and will have different preferences and cultural norms. These should always be considered when communicating and speaking publicly. Tailor your message based on the needs of those in the audience. A good way to understand their expectations is to talk to other members of the organisation, for example you may be speaking to a room full of engineers who appreciate a bit more detail than the average audience. Always try to keep the audience members in when you are communicating your message.