What is communication? Simply talking doesn’t make anyone a good communicator — just like hearing someone doesn’t make us good listeners.
Communicating effectively can be surprisingly challenging. Whether you are an aspiring leader or in a support role, developing your communication skills can impact your success.
Following are some tips for becoming a more effective communicator:
If you want others to tune you out then speak hesitantly, offer vague questions and answers and pepper your speech with a lot of ‘ums,’ ‘you knows’ ‘likes’ and other drivel that doesn’t enlighten anyone. If you’re shy about speaking out, practice at home in front of the mirror until you can confidently approach someone and make a comment or ask a question in a clear, concise manner.
Learn Email Etiquette
If you need to exchange ideas, the subject is complicated or you’re on your third email to the person regarding the same subject, it’s time to step away from the keyboard. In such
Ask any kindergarten teacher what is the trick to getting the young students to pay attention and he or she will say a key is saying “eyes on me!” until she gains their attention. Don’t start a conversation
Pay Attention To Body Language
If you approach a colleague and she’s red in the face, slamming things on her desk and cursing under her breath, take that as a cue that it might be better to approach her later. Not all body language will be so obvious, but always be aware that someone turning their body away from you or refusing to make eye contact may indicate you need to back off and try to communicate later. If you’re unsure, it can’t hurt to ask: “Is now a good time?” That simple courtesy can make someone immediately more receptive to your message.
Nothing will shut down communications faster than taking an accusatory tone, either in an email, text or in person. Instead of saying “you’re wrong,” try “I disagree.” If the intention behind your communication is simply to heap blame on someone else, then forget it. Go for a walk to blow off your frustration or find some other way to deal with your stress, but don’t try to transfer it to someone else.
Be Like A Mirror
Pay attention to how other people communicate, either verbally or in writing, and try to take on some of those same attributes when you interact. For example, if your boss always loves to use sports analogies, find ways to weave some into your communications with him or her. If a colleague is very formal in her emails, then respond in kind. By mirroring the words and actions of others, you make them feel more comfortable with you and begin to establish a rapport that can improve communications.
Why bother having a conversation if you’re not going to listen? Ignore what’s going on around you and tune into the speaker. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next, but rather focus on key words and the emotion being expressed by the speaker. You can even paraphrase the comments to ensure you’re getting the right message: “If I’m hearing you correctly, what you’re saying is…” or “I get the feeling that this is bothering you….” This can help avoid misunderstandings and conflicts later.
READ ALSO: Conversation: How to Keep it Moving
Do Your Homework
If you’re going to a meeting, joining a project or meeting a new customer, take some time to do some background work so that you’re up to speed on the latest news and won’t bog down communications because you’re the weak link. You’ll be a much more effective communicator if your questions are relevant and not forcing other to rehash old news to get you up to speed.
If you’re sending emails at 3 a.m., routing all your calls to voice mail and texting a co-worker sitting three feet away, then you’re purposely using poor communications to stall, block or muddle any progress. Ask yourself why you’re using such poor tactics. Is it worth risking your career over it? Are you willing to be passed up for promotions or great projects because you’re a poor communicator? If so, maybe it’s time you had a talk with yourself about what is really going on.