Every job has its own set of role-specific requirements and some have a long list of industry qualifications to boot. There’s no doubt you need to work on your technical expertise and get any industry recognized qualifications to get ahead in your career. But often, the thing that stands in the way of you achieving the level of success you really want and taking your career and life to the next level, are the skills which you use every single day, but never take the time to really work on.
Maybe some of these skills come naturally to you, or maybe you just haven’t come round to working on them just yet, and it’s something you plan to do, at some point down the line. Either way, improving these skills could transform your career, and your life as well.
How good are your communication skills? When you get asked this question, what sort of things do you think of?
If the only thing that comes to mind is how well you speak, then you might want to re-evaluate how effective your communication really is, because good communication is about more than just speaking.
Here are 5 simple tips for improving communication at work.
1. Listen actively
“ We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak” – Epictetus Listening is a real art form, and one that’s easier said than done.
Can you remember the last time you were in conversation with someone and they said something you felt really strongly about? Maybe it was a fact that you knew was incorrect, or maybe you strongly disagreed with their opinion on something, either way, in these moments, the temptation is to dive in with your two cents.
The result of this is that you stop listening. Even when you resist the urge to jump in, have you ever been so wrapped up in thinking about that smart thing you were going to say, completely disregarding the rest of what the other person was saying?
If the answer to these things is a resounding yes, then you’ve got some work to do.
Actively listening, like anything, takes practice. When you’re actively listening to someone, you’re completely present, they have your full attention and you focus on what they’re saying. No going off into a daydream, even if they have been going on forever! This is what excellent communication is about. Giving the other person the time, attention and space to speak and listening fully.
2. Know your audience
Are you familiar with the top radio station WIIFM?
Or What’s In It For Me? This is what people are thinking when they walk into meetings, hop on a webinar, or listen to just about any speech.
Regardless of who you’re speaking to, always remember that people need to see how things are relevant to them. Why should they listen to what you’re saying? If you’re just rambling on about yourself for the heck of it, then you might be better off keeping quiet.
People need to know that they will get something out of the conversation, however small. Show that you’ve considered them by making the conversational relate-able as quickly as possible if you want to hold their attention. This is especially important with conversations in the workplace, where people are likely to be super busy or pushed for time.
Keep things relevant to the person you’re speaking to.
3. Pay attention to non-verbal queues
Have you ever been desperately bored in a conversation with someone and tried to politely extricate yourself, unsuccessfully? Or maybe you were just running late for another meeting. But no matter what you did they just kept on going? Even though you already told them you were in a rush.
This is an example of what can happen when you don’t pay attention to non-verbal queues. You can tell if someone is fully engaged in what you’re saying and if they’re interested by their eye contact, their body language, and by what they don’t say as much as what they say. We’ve all heard the phrase “ it’s not what you say, but how you say it”.
All these things give you clues about the way a conversation is going. To be a great communicator, pay attention to these non-verbal queues. That way, you’ll notice when you lose someone, when their confused, bored or just in a hurry and you can respond appropriately.
After all, do you really want to be talking AT someone who isn’t listening or doesn’t care? Worse still, do you want to develop a reputation as the person who does that?
4. Get to the point
If you’re anything like me then you’re more than likely painfully impatient. And we’re definitely not alone in this. Always remember to be concise and to the point. Everyone’s busy and everyone’s time is valuable. Great communicators know this and value people’s time. After all, it’s better to have the other person ask you to expand on things rather than them wishing you would just get to the point.
5. Get clarity
Your communication is only as good as the other persons understanding of it, and poor communication leads to miscommunication. Avoid any miscommunications by asking questions, and asking for clarity. Check that what you’ve heard is in fact what the other person intended and likewise, if you’re the one doing the talking, check if the other person is clear on what you’ve said and understands it in the way that you intended.
Here are 8 ways to avoid miscommunication
- Ask questions
- Explain your understanding of what’s been said
- Avoid emails, especially with complex issues
- Opt for face to face or telephone discussion where possible
- Avoid under explaining
- Avoid overcomplicating things ( see # 4 on getting to the point)
- Don’t assume
- Don’t draw your own conclusions without checking in
Regardless of whether your speaking to someone at the office, at a party or anywhere else for that matter, the key is to grab their attention and keep them engaged throughout. A great way to do this is through storytelling.
We all love a good story. Through stories, you can connect with people, build rapport and ultimately get your message across in an engaging, interesting and impactful way. So if you can find a way to convey your point using a compelling story, then you’ll have people hooked.
The story doesn’t need to be lengthy in order to be compelling, it just needs to convey the message you’re trying to get across effectively. This isn’t an excuse to ramble on.
You don’t have to start from the beginning. In fact, get right to the best bit to grab their attention fast.
You can close the loop of the story with lessons learned, key takeaways, OR you can leave it open by discussing next steps and what coming up in the future.
Some examples of where you could use storytelling to add more impact to your communication are:
- During presentations
- During an interview
- When trying to get someone on board or round to your idea. Super important for great collaboration.
- When you’re the newbie and you’re trying to build relationships at a new job.
However you choose to get your point across, if you keep these tips in mind then you’ll be putting yourself ahead of the game and you might even start getting a more positive response than you have before.
Check out the Tedx Talks below for more insights into better communication and stay tuned to find out the rest of the skills that will make you more successful in any career this year!
Leave A Comment