The first thing we need to remember is that everyone is different. Some people are inherently more social than others. Some of us are better communicating in writing while others are better at speaking. Some people are better at reading information and some at listening. It all depends on the information being delivered and received. When you deliver information consider whether it should be spoken or written depending on the content as well as the preference of your receiver.
Here are some ideas that will help your communication skills grow.
- Be an active listener: Make a conscious effort to really hear and understand what the other person is saying. Work at understanding their words as well as their body language and tone. Practice holding off thinking about how to respond or interrupting until you have thoroughly heard what they are saying. Often times the best communicators are also the best listeners.
- Be clear and direct with your audience: Whether the information that you need to send is spoken or written it is so important that it’s clear and direct. Try and use language that is specific (we don’t want any guess work). Check that the person understands the information as you intended. Try to avoid acronyms, there is a chance they will be unclear or might be used as a form of passing the buck.
As time goes on more and more of our communication is done via email and texting. There are many pros and cons to each of these, depending on the message and the audience. Texting can be effective when a quick question or answer is needed without further explanation. But don’t text when it cannot effectively and directly communicate your message.
- Work at paraphrasing: The object of paraphrasing is to ensure you are clear about what has been said and it lets the talker know that you care about what they are saying. Both are equally important in effective and successful communication. Try saying, “What I hear you saying is . .”.
- Use Face to Face communication when needed: Whenever you have difficult information to send or something that could have many questions, try having a direct face to face conversation. You will also have the huge benefit of non-verbal communication cues including tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.
- Know your audience: Communicating with your boss, co-worker, or customer will many times require a different style of communication. When communicating with your boss be careful to pick the right time and ask for what you need and what you expect they can reasonably deliver. With a co-worker try and be direct, transparent, and open-minded. If a customer calls with a problem, listen carefully, always apologize even if it wasn’t your fault, and offer a solution.
- Always be respectful and positive: Being respectful of others is key in communication and it builds morale in the work place. Work at using the other person’s name, looking them in the eye, and nodding to let them know you understand what they are saying. If you’re communicating in writing, reread your message before sending to ensure that it could not be misinterpreted or taken as disrespectful. When on a phone call, don’t multitask even if you think the person on the other end of the line doesn’t know that you are.
Also regardless of the conversation keep it positive. Even the harshest feedback can and should be delivered in a positive, supportive, team-centric manner. Stay focused on your behavior and performance. When you’re on the receiving end avoid getting upset by difficult messages. Look at the bigger picture and the long term implications. Work on taking notice of your personal communication habits. This will help you gain insight into any problems you are having. If you consistently act in a professional and respectful manner, others will notice and your communication skills will grow.
- Make personal goals: Having good communication is so important because it can build workplace morale, and will build efficiency and productivity. If communication is a significant issue in your workplace, consider setting personal goals for improving communication skills, and giving yourself awards with you meet those goals.