Leaders receive a multitude of information on a daily basis. They make hard decisions every day and expect that their employees will directly understand and precisely apply them.
Decisions become erroneous when leader fail to listen. The execution process falls short when leaders fail to communicate and clarify their vision. Subsequently, they also fail to solve problems and reach their goals.
Wondering how to hone your communication skills and create a better working environment?
What is communication?
Communication is a complex and dynamic process, used to collect information. It is also a form of human interaction that always involves at least 2 people, that depends on the character of the people involved and that relies on trust.
While communicating, we receive and/or emit information through silence, facial expressions, writing, reading, talking or listening. We use these skills practically everywhere at work, for every situations.
In addition, a noisy environment, stereotypes, cultural differences, lexical differences, company culture are barriers to communication. These barriers distort what is being said and what is being received. However, being aware if them is the first step to reprogramming communication.
Why is it important?
Communication skill is the ability to effectively interact with people to influence, to convince, to mobilize people towards one goal, to unify teams.
Developing communication skills will bring success at every level, help convey a better understanding of your standards and requirements, build positive healthy relationships, avoid or work through conflicts.
Great communication skills will improve your leadership credibility, your self-confidence, your relationships with others, your feelings of belonging and will decrease your stress level. They will also drive change and increase team motivation.
Furthermore, poor communication skills can prevent you from understanding your coworkers, getting hired or getting promoted, saving time or sharing request in meetings. communication failure leads to resentment.
How to improve your communication skills?
At work, some people struggle to share their thoughts, ideas. To improve your communication skills and get ahead at work:
- Be self-aware and stay authentic to your principles.
- Demonstrate empathy. Empathy will allow you to reach people, to perceive their feelings and perspectives, to build a team that you understand. For example, start by learning your employee’s name to show that you care.
- Demonstrate that you can be trusted by keeping secrets, by following through on promises and commitments, by being consistent, and by not withholding useful information
- Even though you don’t believe it, you are a brand and must treat yourself as such. You must learn to present, to market yourself, to quantify and value your assets.
- Find a purpose for every interaction. Your purpose gives your communication direction.
- Remember that everyone is different and won’t communicate the way you do.
- Always think win-win. According to Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it is better to seek mutual benefits in all human interactions, believe that life is a cooperation and not a competition.
- Understand the corporate culture to adapt your communication style. Your communication style will influence the way others react to you. Numerous communication styles have been developed throughout the years and most often, have been equated to leadership style. Needless to say, everyone doesn’t communicate the same way.
- Bear in mind that appearances are important, even detrimental to success. Maintain professional decorum at all times, dress appropriately, groom yourself, be hygienic, keep your composure according to the company’s culture.
- Take care of your own body language by standing straight, by eliminating over the top behavior, standing still, staying focused on your interlocutor, maintaining eye contact and restraining your facial expression.
- Actively listen and speak less. While listening, monitor body language, evaluate the emotional intensity of the conversation, stay open-minded, and choose your words carefully not to offend. This also means that you don’t need to emit judgement during the process, that you must avoid listening to reply or to seek ulterior motives in someone, and that you must allow people to talk without interruption, even if I disagree with them.
- When writing and speaking, keep it succinct, specific, clear, coherent and compelling for others. Avoid using ambiguous words.
- Treat people as you want to be treated. Stay polite and treat people with the respect that they deserve and with regards to their culture.
- Have an open door policy and be approachable.
- Analyze your audience. Take time and analyze the full situation and pay attention to non verbal communication.
- When in conversation, observe what is being said and paraphrase to confirm that you have properly understood, ask probing questions to get all the information and avoid daydreaming, tuning out or jumping to conclusions. If nervous, introverted or shy, practice your conversations before.
- Avoid using stereotypes to categorize someone or the info that they share.
- Use humor to defuse negative situations to elevate any subject, to put your audience at ease. Using humor is risky but is worth-while.
- Reward positive behavior and hold people accountable for negative behavior.
- To effectively improve communication, there are also a few unspoken rules to follow. One must avoid:
- Discounting information on the account of discrediting the source.
- Comparing the information you are getting with your own experience.
- Calling attention to yourself or your situation.
- Gossiping, openly criticizing or making fun of others and their interests. Find solutions and help resolve problem instead of creating them.
- Noisy environment to have conversations.
- Respect silence. Silence is golden in some cultures.
- Finally, don’t take anything personal.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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