Communication is not talking to someone or a group of people. Instead it is the TWO WAY FLOW of ideas or information between the sender and receiver(s).
A monologue can not be classified as communication. While communication requires at least two parties, if you have a monologue: Where one party does all the talking with no response or contribution from the other, then you are doing something else, not communicating.
Especially bosses and leaders, we are mostly guilty of dishing out instructions and orders without actually communicating it. Sometimes you passively ask (or should I say demand) “is it clear?” What do you expect them to say other than a “yes sir!”
To get the kind of result we desire as executives and leaders in particular, we really need to properly communicate. Here are a few skills to give you a head start. Commit to practicing these strategies for life. The more you do, the better you would become and the more you will benefit.
1. KNOW YOURSELF
You need to understand who you are, how you communicate, etc. You need to be aware of what is going on within you as this may spells out in the way you talk to others – even without you knowing or intending it to happen. Like being discriminatory, appearing unconfident, bad mood, irritable, ill-tempered. Also, you need to know your message: what do you really want your listener to understand when you’re done speaking? Thus, you can tailor your message accordingly.
2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
The best communication arises out of understanding whomever you’re speaking to. You don’t necessarily need to know everyone in your audience. But knowing the demographics helps, like their gender, average age/ age range, etc. Acknowledging your relationship with them is also important. Are they supervisors, janitor, investors or managers?
Knowing your audience’s motivations, preferred communication styles, learning styles, etc., allows you to adapt your message and increase the odds of effective communication.
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3. BE DIRECT, SPECIFIC AND CLEAR
Clear-cut communication increases the likelihood that people will comprehend and take action on whatever you’re asking from them. Say what you have to say: cut through the cheese and stop beating about the bush. Whenever you’re delivering an assignment or asking for assistance from someone, focus on providing simple, actionable and specific instructions. Keep it simple: it does no one any good to be using ‘big grammar’ or being ambiguous.
4. GET APPROPRIATE FEEDBACK
Communication is TWO WAY. When you send a message (verbal, non-verbal, electronic, etc.), until you get appropriate feedback communication cycle is not complete. Don’t assume you’ve been heard or that you’ve said your piece and that’s all. Get your feedback and clarify that the feedback is as intended.
Don’t end a conversation until you’re sure the other person understands your objectives and how to achieve them. Deliver your instructions in a friendly, open way so the other person knows they can approach you with follow-up questions.
5. PAY ATTENTION TO NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION
Plenty of research suggests nonverbal communication is just as important as what a person says—maybe even more. They all play a major role in affirming or undermining your message.
In communication, what the other person(s) understand comes from WHAT IS SEEN (Body language, gesticulation, smile/frown, demonstration, etc.) – 55%. HOW IT WAS SAID (voice tone, inflexion, pitch, shouting, etc.) – 38%, and a 7% from what is ACTUALLY SAID.
Whenever you’re talking with someone, practice being aware of your own body language and the body language of whomever you’re speaking to. In particular, pay attention to whether your body language aligns with what you’re saying.
6. LISTEN MORE THAN YOU SPEAK.
This is hard for most of us, but it is a skill worth cultivating. Having to really listen is work, but it yields good returns. It is not something you do passively.
Listen to yourself. This helps make sure you are saying what/how you intend to communicate. When someone is speaking to you, really listen to what they’re saying. At times words may fail but if you are truly listening, you will get the point they are trying to make.
Ask follow-up questions to demonstrate that you’re paying attention and to make sure there are no miscommunications. This practice builds rapport and understanding between the communicating parties.
7. BE POSITIVE AND RESPECTFUL
This one should go without saying, but sadly that’s not always the case. Prioritizing transparent, fair and respectful communication within a group is one of the best strategies for cultivating loyalty and boosting the team’s performance. For instance, you don’t have to yell at people to make your point. Raising your voice doesn’t equal being assertive. While you need be assertive, this you can do without raising your voice. Another is using coercion or fear as motivators – they don’t often foster effective communication. Instead, focus on bringing an honest, positive and ego-less attitude to every situation that arises.
Communication skills as any other skill, requires an ongoing practice. You won’t master them in a day or even a year. Instead, you’ll need to commit to practicing these strategies for life. The more you implement these skills, the more they’ll start to feel like second nature—and the more your leadership abilities will benefit. So, keep at it and grow.
You know what, I’m going to learn from this and practice it too. So, I will also suggest you practice it too.