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7 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills
Effective communication is vital for any successful leader, enabling them to clearly convey company shared vision and align employees around the organisational goals; motivate and manage staff and ensure that every employee understands their contribution to the overall success of the business.
A survey of 2,000 workers found that employees who trust their leadership have more frequent communications than those that do not. Experts also state that clear, consistent and frequent communication can help deliver improved employee performance.
However, effective communication is not as common in organisations as you would imagine. In fact, many people suffer from poor communication skills. So how do you recognise that your communications skills are not as effective as they could be and how do you set about improving them? Here are our top 10 tips:
1. Listening is the key
One of the first steps to effective communication is to listen. Listening isn’t just about taking on board what the other person is saying; it is about understanding them. Through effective listening, you can determine how the other person thinks and reacts to certain circumstances, guiding you to adjust your style to better engage with them.
At the same time, people like to listen to those that listen to them. Therefore, demonstrating that you are listening can be beneficial in getting your employees to hear, and take on board what you have to say.
2. Ask the Right Questions
Questions are a fundamental part of our language and communication, and one question is likely to lead to another. Your workers will be more confident with a solution, if questions are freely encouraged. It can also help to ask yourself what questions you would ask if you were in your employees’ position. This is particularly important in times of change or uncertainty.
3. Communicate With Stories
Another way to improve how your communications are received and understood by employees is to tell a story. Audiences, whoever they may be, are more receptive to narratives than to bland instructions. People listen to stories, become emotionally engaged and remember them well. Think carefully about the story you choose to tell to illustrate the point you wish to make, and ensure it is relevant to your target audience, so that they can individualise the content, thereby understanding ‘what this means for me.’
4. Watch Your Body Language
Every movement you make is a form of communication. The physical signals you instinctively make are picked up by the audience and whether you know it or not, affect the way they receive what you are saying (or how you are listening). This can cause confusion and possibly reduce the impact of the message you are trying to convey.
Try to think of your toes or adopt a power pose if you want to increase your confidence in front of large audiences. Also, learn how to read the body language of other people so you can respond appropriately.
5. Get rid of Unnecessary Distractions
Whether it is your phone, the PowerPoint presentation or the background noise – external stimulations are distracting when you are trying to deliver a message. They will reduce the effectiveness of your message so limit their use to the essential when communicating with others.
6. Be Firm not Aggressive
Watching your tone is of particular importance. While you will need to be assertive at times, there is a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. Avoid crossing that line at all costs as the latter will only alienate your audience and is not productive. Practice being confident and direct while portraying a calm, cooperative tone.
7. Limit the Number of Conversations – Practice Being Present
You can’t concentrate when you hold more than one conversation at a time. There are several ways that this can happen:
· You discuss more than one thing at a time.
· You write emails at the same time as you are on the phone.
· You are on the phone at the same as someone is in your office.
Try to avoid discussing separate topics with two or more people at the same time and limit conversations to the essentials while remaining polite. Show respect to your audience by focussing entirely on the communication/conversation you are having – with no other distractions.
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