8 Ways You Can Improve Your Communication Skills


8 Ways You Can Improve Your Communication Skills

8 Ways You Can Improve Your Communication Skills: A leader's ability to communicate clearly and effectively with employees within their teams and across the organization is one of the cornerstones of business success.

And in today's complex, fast-paced business environment, with hundreds of different communication tools, fully or partially remote teams, and even multicultural teams spanning multiple time zones, effective communication has never been easier. It is equally important and equally difficult. Therefore, communication may be the most important skill for managers.

The good news is that these skills can be learned and even mastered. These eight tips will help you maximize your communication skills for organizational and career success.


Here are Ways You Can Improve Your Communication Skills

1. Be clear and Concise

Communication is above all a matter of word choice. When it comes to word choice, less is more. The key to strong and persuasive communication, whether written or oral, is clarity and as much conciseness as possible.

Before you engage in any form of communication, decide on your goals and audience. By being careful and detailed about what you want to say and why, you can include all the information you need. This also helps remove unnecessary details. Avoid unnecessary or frivolous language that can detract from your message.

Repetition may be necessary in some cases, but use carefully and sparingly. Repeating your message ensures your audience understands it, but repeating it too often can lead to them completely abandoning you.


2. Prepare in Advance

Before you engage in any communication, know what to say and how to say it. However, preparation is more than just practicing your presentation.

Preparation includes thinking about the entire communication from start to finish. Look for the information you need to support your message. Think about how you will respond to questions and criticism. Try to anticipate the unexpected. For example, before conducting a performance review, create a list of specific examples of employee behavior to support the review.

Before you negotiate your salary or promotion, make sure you know exactly what you want.

Be prepared to discuss potential scope and compromises. Know what you are willing to accept and what you are not willing to accept. And be sure to have specific information on hand to support your claims, such as an appropriate salary for your position and location (but remember that your research is based on publicly available information, not industry gossip) company or anecdotal evidence. 

Before you engage in a conversation, consider potential questions, requests for additional information or clarification, and disagreements so you can respond calmly and clearly.


3. Pay Attention to Nonverbal Communication

Our facial expressions, gestures, and body language can convey more than words.

Nonverbal cues can have 65-93% more influence than speech. And when it doesn't match, we're more likely to believe nonverbal cues than spoken words.

Leaders need to be especially good at reading nonverbal cues. For example, employees who are reluctant to voice disagreements or concerns may signal their discomfort by crossing their arms or refusing to make eye contact. 

If you know other people's body language, you may be able to adjust your communication tactics accordingly. At the same time, leaders must be able to control their own nonverbal communication.

Nonverbal cues should always support your message. Inconsistent verbal and nonverbal communication can be confusing at best. At worst, it can undermine your message and your team's trust in you, your organization, and even yourself.


4. Watch your Tone

How you say something is just as important as what you say. Like other nonverbal cues, tone can add strength and emphasis to your message, or it can completely weaken it.

Tone can be an especially important factor when disagreements or conflicts arise in the workplace. Choosing words with positive meanings creates kindness and trust. Poorly chosen words with ambiguous or negative connotations can quickly lead to misunderstandings. 

Tone when speaking includes not only word choice, but also volume, resonance, and intonation. In real time, it can be difficult to control the tone to match your intent. However, if you are aware of your tone, you can adjust accordingly even if your communication seems to be going in the wrong direction.

It's easier to control your tone when writing. Be sure to read your message once or twice and think about the tone as well as the message. You may also read it out loud or have a trusted colleague read it to you, as long as it does not violate confidentiality. Also, if you find yourself in an intense email or other written exchange, don't be too quick to respond.

If possible, wait a day or two after writing your answer before submitting it. Rereading the message after emotions have calmed often softens the tone and reduces the risk of escalating the conflict.


5. Practice Active Listening

Communication almost always involves two or more people.

Therefore, listening is as important as speaking for successful communication. However, listening may be more difficult than you think.

Communication expert Marjorie North points out in her blog, Mastering the Basics of Communication, that during a conversation, we only hear half of what the other person is saying. The goal of active listening is to make sure you hear the whole message, not just the words the other person is saying.

Here are some tips for Active Listening:

Give your full attention to the speaker.

Clear your mind of distractions, judgments, and objections.

Avoid the temptation to interrupt your thoughts.

Display open and positive body language to grab attention and show the speaker that you are really listening.

Paraphrase or paraphrase what you heard when you responded.

Ask open-ended questions to get additional information.


6. Develop your Emotional Intelligence

Communication is built on emotional intelligence. Simply put, if you are unable to assess and understand your own emotions, you will not be able to communicate effectively with others. "When you become aware of your emotions and the behaviors they trigger, you can begin to manage them," Margaret Andrews explains in her article How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence.

Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence naturally find it easier to actively listen, maintain an appropriate tone, and use positive body language. Understanding and managing your own emotions is only part of emotional intelligence. Another equally important element of effective communication is empathy for others. For example, showing empathy for your employees can make difficult conversations easier.

You may still have to deliver bad news, but (actively) listening to the other person and showing them that you understand their feelings can help ease hurt feelings and eliminate misunderstandings. It will help you a lot in avoiding it.


7. Develop a Workplace Communication Strategy

Today's workplaces are filled with a constant flow of information in many different formats. Individual messages need to be understood within the context of a broader information flow.

Even the most effective communicators can struggle to get their message across without a workplace communication strategy. A communication strategy is the structure by which a business sends and receives information. You can and should explain what and how you communicate it to your customers, stakeholders, managers, and employees.

In its broadest sense, strategy should consider who receives what messages and when. This ensures everyone receives the right information at the right time. This can be as detailed as how you communicate, including what types of tools you use to capture what information. For example, you can decide when it's appropriate to use a group chat for your entire team or organization, or when it's appropriate to summarize a meeting via email. 

Creating a basic guide like this can simplify the flow of information. This ensures that everyone has the information they need and that important knowledge is not overwhelmed by unnecessary details.


8. Create a Positive Organizational Culture

The culture of a company when communicating also plays an important role in effective communication. A positive work environment based on transparency, trust, empathy, and open dialogue makes general communication easier and more effective. 

When employees trust their managers, they are more receptive to their managers' communications. Managers also find it easier to get buy-in and even give constructive criticism by encouraging employees to speak up, make suggestions, and even give constructive criticism. Become.

"The most dangerous organizations are those that are silent," says Lorne Rubis in her blog, "Her 6 Tips for Creating a Better Work Culture." Two-way communication is only effective in a culture built on trust and psychological safety.

Authoritative managers who refuse to share information, accept suggestions, admit mistakes and accept criticism are likely to find their suggestions and criticisms met defensively or ignored altogether. Without this foundation of trust and transparency, even the smallest communications can be misinterpreted, leading to misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict.

Communicating with colleagues and employees always comes with pitfalls. There are always misconceptions and misunderstandings that need to be resolved. Unfortunately, business messages aren't always what people want to hear, especially during difficult times.

But developing and learning effective communication skills will make your job as a leader easier, even during difficult conversations. The time you spend developing these skills will definitely be time well spent.


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