Effective communication is an essential component of professional success whether it is at the interpersonal, inter-group, intra-group, organizational, or external level. 85% percent of our success in life is directly attributable to our communication skills.
At school we are taught how to speak, we are taught about vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation but the elements of effective communication are rarely taught.
Effective communication is one of the most important life skills we can learn—yet one we don’t usually put a lot of effort into. I’ll share communication tips which if used consistently, will help you achieve better communication results.
You are talking even when you are not
Will you share your inhibitions on the new project if your boss is sitting on his chair both arms closed and body turned away?
You have called a team member to share feedback on his progress at work. He enters the room and you are sitting on your chair with arms crossed or your attention is divided by your laptop or your phone. What does this say about you?
Don’t forget that you’re constantly communicating even when you’re not saying a word. Our non-verbal and non-written cues often reveal more than we think they do.
What should we do then? Tailor your body language; give them the right amount of eye contact and try keeping your hands out of your pocket.
Another way to make a connection with someone or simply put them at ease is to try copying their gestures and poses. This is called mirroring. When done with intend mirroring can be important part of developing relationships and building rapport. It starts with observing body postures of the other person and then suddenly letting your body posture reflect his/her position in return. When a person is closed off or resistant the easiest way to increase his/her comfort level is to use mirroring. Just be careful not to use highly negative postures such as both arms closed or upper body that’s turned away.
Go slow – With words and information
You just finished explaining the new process and your employee has no questions to ask.
The first impression of one of my company’s client was that he’s highly qualified and presentable man. But when he was asked to share the structure of the process which was handed over to us; his rate of speech was so high that the team didn’t pick some of the most important aspects. You think the first impression held any importance after that? No. Don’t be afraid to be slow, take a pause before you speak. Trust me the others will not mind that. Practice to go slow because I know reducing your rate of speech can be difficult. With practice and will you can achieve to communicate well.
Same is the case with information, manager called the team member and shared 10 project reports of different companies out of which had to design a project on ecommerce for the company. With too much information the team member lost the aim they had for their project. Communicate the goals for the outcome which are clear and specific along with deadlines and share only that much information which can be processed at a time.
Cut down ‘umm’ and ‘like’
What happens when you start talking while you are still thinking? Ummmm
One of my colleagues used to say ‘um’ after every sentence. Half way down the conversation I used to loose interest and make an excuse to leave. ‘Um’ and ‘like’ are used when we are thinking not when we are communicating. Keep track of Um’s and ah’s; these words project lack of confidence. People have little interest in listening to those individuals who cannot add value to a situation or topic, but force themselves into a conversation just to hear them speak.
WE instead of ME
The boss started speaking “I will make this process achieve the highest……” Beyond this the employee is not interested. Do you know why?
Trust is best created by earning it. People only open up to those they trust. When people trust their leader they will invest their time, effort and mind. Use words like “we, us, we’re, our, and ourselves” to instantly build a bond.
One of friends shared that in his organization, post employee satisfaction survey, it came across that the employees are not satisfied with management policies. The leader decided to take action by address the team. Rather than communicating that they would like know ‘why’, ‘what’ and the ‘how’; he started justifying the policies. The team never shared the feedback again. If you don’t build trust, the communication channel will close.
A story can activate the brain
Wonder why you like reading a storybook more than a rule book?
I have always enjoyed and learned more when my manager used a story to present the topic and explain the situation. Personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations. Whenever we hear a story, we want to relate it to one of our existing experiences. The next time you struggle with getting people on board with your projects and ideas, simply tell them a story. According to Princeton researcher Hasson, storytelling is the only way to plant ideas into other people’s minds.
Listen with your eyes as well as your ears
Does your mind start to wander when others talk?
My daughter was telling me what happened at school, but my mind was occupied planning for the house party. She’s too young to read by face and body language to know that I am not listening but at the workplace, that’s not the case. Biggest disaster was post a meeting with the client my boss asked “What would be the turnaround time for the process?”. We all looked at each other and the client was skeptical of her abilities because she was not listening when he was sharing the process details. Another very common example “I can raed tinghs out of oderr.”; I am sure we all can read it as “I can read things out of order”. Just as our brain assumes the words we see, it can also fill the words what we hear. Listening is critical for communication; you cannot have a conversation if you don’t know what the other person is talking about.
Practice the following:
- Look Interested
- Maintain eye contact
- When your brain wanders, bring it back
Till the time you are good at speed listening, keep asking the follow up questions.
What’s your reaction when the moment you enter your office and settle on your seat an employee comes and tells you “The lines are down we are not able to connect”?
I specifically remember one of my managers who always had a smile even when I went to her with problems or issues. She had a positive aura which helped me surpass any problem. All she did was, ask me a few questions and I would realize I already had the solution to my issues. When you give your team the impression that you are excited about talking to them and that you care about them, you make them feel better about themselves. As a result, they’ll be more likely to really open up to you.
Keep in mind that communication is not about you, your opinions, your positions or your circumstances. It’s about helping others by meeting their needs, understanding their concerns, and adding value to their world. Hope these tips help you reduce the number of challenges that you face while communicating with others.