Effective communication is the most fundamental life skill if you want to be successful. It’s what generates both healthy personal relationships and healthy working relationships.
The way you communicate facilitates how people perceive you, the flow of information throughout a team and how conflict resolution unfolds.
Communication refers to verbal, non-verbal and written transactions between people. That includes not only how you present during in-person discussions, but also how you present in email too.
Because everyone has a job to do and spends most of their time hidden behind a screen, the art of communication has become lost. Here are ways to work on the craft to help you advance your career and create a better overall workplace experience.
The first step in towards perfecting the art of communication is listening. The better listener you are, the better speaker you will be.
Listen keenly to the perspectives and needs of others so that you can respond more effectively. If you’re just being quiet so you can focus on whatever ‘clever’ thing you’re going to say next, you’re not having an authentic conversation. It’s also likely you’ll be off topic when it's your turn to speak.
If people feel like you’re talking at them instead of with them, you will end up losing your listener. Showing interest in others makes them feel heard, appreciated and they will be more likely to return the favor.
Speak with confidence
What’s more important than what you say is how you say it.
Being confident involves non-verbal language and vocal tone more than your words. Be in tune with the message you are giving off with your body. Keep your arms open to show receptivity, keep your shoulders back to indicate a positive mood and stand upright to exude certainty.
When you speak with assuredness, people will trust and respect your perspective.
You might have trouble stating your needs at work because you are fearful of judgement or consequences. However, if you want people to take your needs seriously, you’ll need to practice being assertive.
This means being both kind and confident. Assertiveness is respecting yourself while being considerate towards the needs of others and saying no when you need to.
Instead of saying: “Sorry, I’m late. I hope I wasn’t inconveniencing you.”
Say: “Thank you all for waiting. I appreciate your patience.”
When you put yourself down, you immediately come across less assertive. When you thank others instead of being apologetic, you remain kind, give the gift of gratitude and don’t lose your power. (This does not include times you actually need to actually say sorry.)
Instead of saying: “Could you get this done when you get a chance?”
Say: “I will need this done by Thursday. Thanks in advance!”
If you need something done, ask for it! Be clear, concise and remove words that reduce the sureness of the sentence like “maybe”, “if you can” or “might”.
Be more clear
When speaking, start with your main point. Leave out the leaky details like what day and time it was, the weather outside and how long it took you to get to work. Keep it simple and short.
Say the most important things first and be direct. You’re going to lose people if you bore them. Being unclear also leaves too much room for miscommunication. Being concise exudes confidence, certainty, intelligence and directness.
A helpful tip is stating your point at the beginning and end of speaking. If you’ve found yourself speaking for a long time, summarizing makes your message clearer and reminds people of what's most important. Repeating what’s important also helps people to remember.
Be thoughtful before you answer
S l o w d o w n. Both slow down your pace of speaking and wait before you answer a question.
Being thoughtful gives you time to pick the appropriate vocabulary, give a constructive response and filter through what’s important and appropriate to say.
And if you don’t know, say “I don’t know, let me get back to you”! There’s no worse situation than someone pretending they know what they’re talking about. Slow down, do your research and say something spectacular. You will save time on mistakes and miscommunication.
Saying less words of higher quality is more effective than saying more words of lower quality.
Add a touch of kindness
If someone sends you an email, send back a short “Thank you!”. If someone goes out of their way for you, give them appreciation. Many people feel underappreciated at their job and a simple “Thanks!”, or, “You did great!” can go a long way.
People want to help those who are kind, open and modest.
Don’t forget to add some small talk throughout the day (even if it’s a little uncomfortable). Adding a personal touch to a conversation lightens up the heaviness of work. The job will get done either way, might as well make it pleasant.