Do you think communication is mostly done through words? What if you found out that communication is actually 70% non-verbal? That means it’s your body language including your movements, eyes and even hands that say things more often and louder than your mouth. The ability to communicate with clarity and effectiveness is an imperative skill for organizational leaders. Here are important ways to make your communication more productive and effective.
1. Provide clear information
Passing information from one person to the next is the purpose of workplace communication. If your communication isn’t complete and accurate, it can cause confusion instead of clarity. Carefully plan your communication to be sure you are passing along the correct information and the right amount so those you are communicating with understand what you want to say.
2. Communicate honestly
People know when something isn’t adding up. If you try to communicate something that isn’t totally true and honest it will eventually be revealed. It’s difficult to maintain dishonest communication in the workplace (or anywhere else) because it gets too complicated to hold all of the stories together. Instead of saying things that aren’t totally true, just say less. Speak the truth and leave the rest for later or don’t say it at all if it’s not true and honest.
3. Bring non-verbal and verbal communication together
Remember, communication is both non-verbal and verbal. Sometimes, a person says one thing but acts in a different way. For instance, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say “Yes” but shake his head in a horizontally which indicates “No” in a non-verbal way (in the US culture that is). This sends mixed messages. Bring your communication together by being conscious that your non-verbal and verbal messages are in agreement.
Listening is an important communication skill that is seldom done well. In order to actually share information with another person, you have to hear what is being communicated. This way you can respond to the actual message. Most conflict stems from poor listening. To help learn how to listen well, take time to repeat what you here from the other person. Simply paraphrase what you heard to verify accuracy. This will cut down on conflict and vastly increase the effectiveness of your communications.
5. Ask questions
Asking questions is a good way to verify what you hear so you respond appropriately. Questions let the other person have the chance to clarify what they said. It also allows you to hear a response in a different way or just hear it again in order to be sure of what you heard. Make sure your questions relate specifically to what is being said. Don’t change the conversation by bringing in a question on a totally different matter. Also use questions to gather quick additional points that help you understand the conversation.
6. Let others talk
Have you ever been stuck in a meeting when only one person did all of the talking? Some people even go so far as to ask a question and provide the answer? Few things are as irritating as having a person dominate a conversation. A conversation is a two way event at a minimum. Remember to let the others speak. Even if you have a lot to say, dominating a conversation becomes a monologue, not a conversation. Solicit opinions, ask for response, and bring others into the conversation. Sometimes, all it takes is to be quiet for a moment.
7. Engage in Difficult Conversations When necessary
Do you ever avoid saying what needs to be said or avoid a difficult conversation altogether? Not saying something doesn’t make a situation go away. Instead, things usually just get worse. Not communicating can also cause more stress and trauma in a situation. Instead of avoiding difficult communications, sit down and plan out what you’re going to say. Actually write down the important points in order to feel comfortable about what you have to say. Make sure the tone you use is open and non-confrontational in order to encourage feedback from the other person. Conversations aren’t always fun but getting the words out will relieve the tension and let the matter move forward.
Obviously there’s a lot more that can be said about communications in the workplace. Starting with these top seven tips provides a good beginning to making you a better workplace communicator. Remember, practice makes perfect. Use daily opportunities to practice your communication skills until you feel comfortable in any situation that arises in the organization.
Consuelo Meux, Ph.D. is an expert in change management for businesses and individuals. She is a professional speaker, trainer and author. Her personal coaching is available for those looking for success in a world of transition. Sign up for business and change management tips at her website. http://www.consuelomeux.com