Good Communication Skills Will Help You Find Success
Have you ever noticed how the people that communicate well with their colleagues tend to have more success at work? We have all been around people that we did not communicate well with, or have known people that talk at or down to you or dominate conversations. In the interest of avoiding those pitfalls and making ourselves more effective and productive, let’s take a look at some of the keys to communicating effectively in the workplace.
Effective leaders are often good communicators. Leadership exists at all levels of an organization and can eventually lead to more responsibilities and higher-level positions down the road. Whether that is your end goal, or you just want to be more effective in the workplace, understanding and fine-tuning your communication skills can take your performance to new levels.
Listening - It is simple advice, but is often hard to employ at work when you are trying so hard to do things right, get noticed, and maybe even get ahead. Whether you are the new person or the subject matter expert, one of the most effective things you can do when someone comes to you with a problem or to talk is to listen. Hear that person out and avoid interrupting unless absolutely necessary or some clarification is needed. Not only will you be able to absorb more of the information the other person is communicating, but you can help build your own credibility as a leader.
Ask Questions - If you spend two-thirds of your time listening and one-third of your time asking the right questions, you are probably setting yourself up for success. When done properly, asking questions is often perceived as a safe method of communicating with other people because by asking a question you are collaborating with them and often asking for their help, input or advice.
Provide Feedback and Seek Clarification - One of the most effective communication tools for ensuring you are on the same page with the person you are talking to is to repeat back what you are hearing. This is not about being a parrot. It is amazing how often one person says something they think is very clear, and the other person hears or perceives it completely different. By checking with the other person by saying something along the lines of, “What I’m hearing you say is…,” may ward off any miscommunication. It also shows that you were engaged in the conversation and want to genuinely understand the other person’s point of view.
Electronic Communication - Our communication methods have changed dramatically over the last few. With this rise of electronic communication, it is not only about the tone of your voice or body language, but we have to be aware of our email and text message etiquette, as well.
Using ALL CAPS! to emphasize a point in an email or text is going to can come across differently depending on the audience and the topic being discussed. Along the same lines, just like you and your partner may have a pact to not go to bed angry, a good rule of thumb is to avoid replying to emails while angry. It is tempting upon receipt of an email that gets you hot under the collar to quickly fire off a reply. The better strategy is to take a few deep breaths and maybe a walk around the office. If it is something that can be left until after lunch or the following day, that may be even better. Sending angry emails may seem benign, but it can have long-term consequences between co-workers and team members. Be as aware of your email communication etiquette as you would be how you approached someone in-person.
Simplicity and Repetition - Another key to effective communication is to distill complex information into small, easily-understood pieces. Oftentimes, this takes practice and expertise. In most cases we are only able to explain things well to other people if we know the topic really well ourselves. Do not hesitate to practice your pitch or presentation, and avoid saying in a paragraph what you can get across in a sentence or two.
Another secret effective communicators utilize is to repeat their talking points. This does two things; it emphasizes the key points and it helps us, as listeners, remember those points. This is not just useful in sales pitches or motivational speeches. Too often in business, presentations get bogged down in the details. With the amount of information being thrown at all of us on a daily basis, being in a presentation that is easy to understand with a memorable take-away is a good use of our time.
Focus - Another important piece to effectively communicating in the workplace is to minimize distractions. When you have set aside time to meet with someone in-person or otherwise, yours and their time will be best served if you are able to focus solely on that conversation and not get distracted by email or phone calls. Given the amount of distractions we deal with on a daily basis, you may make the other person’s day by devoting even a small amount of undivided attention to them.
High performers and good leaders tend to also be good communicators. While communicating in the workplace is complex and there are always going to be minefields to navigate, being aware of effective practices can always help take your communication to a higher level.
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