When every aspect of our jobs depends on communication, the way we choose to do it, as professionals, can make or break a deal. Something that became even more relevant with the increase in remote work.
Effective communication can be successfully accomplished both in person and remotely, using appropriate techniques and methods.
Strong communication skills result in better business and more trust between team members, teams, and their leaders, workers, and clients.
Today, we’re going to show you how to improve your communication skills to improve your performance.
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Yes, they can. By considering communication as a skill, we can definitely say that it can be improved.
All skills get better by practicing them and applying those teachings to everyday professional challenges.
Successful communication will result in being able to better explain problems, build solutions, form positive relationships with colleagues and leadership, and effectively collaborate on workflow.
It’s fundamental to know what you’re going to say and adapt your communication accordingly.
This entails not only preparing the presentation (if you’re doing it verbally) but also thinking about details from a non-verbal communication standpoint:
- your outfit
- what medium do you choose to do the presentation
- how you’ll answer questions from participants etc
Brainstorming the potential questions you may be asked is a great way of preparing yourself for this kind of communication.
Being prepared involves thinking about the entirety of the communication, from start to finish. Research the information that supports your message thoroughly and consider how criticism (both positive and negative) will be taken.
The secret is to anticipate the unexpected.
Imagine you’re having a salary negotiation meeting with your manager and human resources. You should know exactly what you want and be prepared to discuss ranges and potential compromises.
Let them know what you are willing to accept and what you aren’t. In terms of research, know the specifics: the relevant salaries for your position and location.
Every kind of communication opportunity can be prepared in advance.
You probably know the expression “less is more”. In communication terms, the same notion applies.
Being clear and concise will make you consider your word choice, something that is as well a form of preparation. Whether your communication is written or spoken, keep in mind that it should be clear and straightforward.
To be successful, keep your goals and audience in mind. The people you are trying to convey a message to will be more interested if the communication method is tailored to their interests.
As a communicator, you’re showing them that you care about them and that their opinions are important.
Avoid unnecessary words and overly flowery language, which can distract the audience from your message.
Outlining precisely what you need to say or do will help you eliminate details that are unnecessary and can even hurt your process and deny you effective communication.
Make sure you reach a balance when it comes to repetition and condescending phrases.
This is probably one of the most important ways of improving communication skills.
Listening is just as important as speaking, considering that communication usually involves two or more individuals. And, sometimes, the act of listening is not considered as important as it should be. Good listeners and effective communicators are the same people.
Listening can be more challenging than initially realized, but the point of practicing it is to ensure that the entire message is transmitted.
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Every part of the message is important, the words are only one part of it. While establishing a line of communication with someone, you must give the speaker your full attention.
Make sure you clear your mind of the tendency to create judgments and of distractions and avoid the temptation to interrupt your partner in this communication moment with your own thoughts.
Be sure to stay focused on the person communicating with you and choose positive body language (more on this topic on this list as well). Make sure that your counterarguments or questions show interest.
As important as verbal communication, non-verbal signals can often say more than words.
Nonverbal communication cues, including the way you listen, look, move, and react, will tell the person you’re communicating with what are your true thoughts on what’s being communicated.
When the nonverbal signals match with the words you’re saying, they increase trust. If not, mistrust will harm what you want to convey and how the message is received.
Your nonverbal cues affect the first impression you make on someone.
In our current work “climate”, nonverbal communication takes center stage. It’s essential to convey trust and authority, so leaders should continue to develop this particular skill.
The nonverbal cues need to support the message the team leader wants to convey. In this regard, it’s interesting to take a look at the work of Albert Mehrabian, a behavioral psychologist. His research led him to create the 7-38-55 rule.
This rule tells us that:
- only 7% of all communication is done through verbal communication
- 38% is done through vocal liking (tone of voice)
- 55% is done through body language
When you’re listening to others, make an effort to avoid slouching, nod to show you hear the person, and think about your facial expressions. If you’re speaking, keep making natural eye contact, this will establish trust.
Improving communication skills is also an exercise in trusting yourself.
Communicating effectively means that you understand your own feelings and emotions and are able to connect with others on that level. By doing so, you’ll be able to control your own means of communicating, such as the nonverbal cues already discussed.
People that develop their emotional intelligence are natural communicators when it comes to listening, using positive body language and a warm tone of voice.
Empathy is key to turning a tough conversation with an employee or a colleague into something more soothing and easy to deliver. If you try to put yourself in other people’s shoes, you can better understand what they need and communicate more effectively.
Public speaking is one of those skills that may not come easy for everyone, but it becomes better with time and practice.
The best way to develop this strong communication skill is by seeking out opportunities to do it.
Regularly speaking in front of a group of people will amplify your strengths and weaknesses, forcing you to develop better communication habits and adjust the “bad habits” as needed.
Nonverbal communication includes a very important cue: the tone of voice. How things are said can be as important as what it’s said.
The tone of voice can add power and emphasis to the message if appropriately used, or it can undermine it completely. The “correct” tone of voice is especially important in workplace disagreements and conflicts: a positive connotation in your tone of voice will calm complicated situations. Responding in less positive tones will increase the drama.
But it’s a challenge to control the tone and matching it to your intent. However, it’s still possible to be mindful of it and alter it appropriately, if communication seems to be going in the wrong direction. In writing the message is simpler to control. Still, read over your messages and e-mails twice or more times, while thinking about the tone as well as the message. You may even want to read it out loud and test how it sounds.
For those “phone addicted” who want to know how to improve their communication skills, we have a simple tip: leave your phone out of sight!
If you’re keeping a conversation with someone (or a group) face-to-face or online, if you’re in a meeting on negotiations, avoid exterior distractions.
This may mean leaving unnecessary electronic devices away, keeping the meeting attendance limited to just those who need to be there, and choosing the best time slots to engage in conversation. For example, by the end of the day, people might not be as focused.
To improve our communication skills we also have to consider what happens in the workplace. Every single piece of communication, possible in many different formats, must be comprehended in the context of that larger flow of information.
You may have applied the strategies of good communication, but if there’s not a common workplace strategy, the message won’t be effectively transmitted.
This communication strategy, this plan, determines how the teams will receive and send information. It should outline how and what you communicate to customers and clients, stakeholders, managers, and employees.
- Who gets what message and how do they get it?
- What tools are used: e-mail, a messaging platform, calls, etc.
Streamlining all these details helps ensure that no miscommunication happens or that detail is missed. Even if you’re not in a leadership position, make sure to contribute to the strategy in place to work.
Don’t stop learning about how you can improve your communication skills. Read books, attend lectures, take courses and classes, and listen to podcasts.
Communication is still one of the most essential workplace skills and it’s one of those skills that separates high-performer workers from the rest.
Remember that those who can speak and write eloquently, effectively, and persuasively are the ones who are most likely to succeed.
Keep asking for feedback on your communication style at work. We always remember to ask for feedback or to give it when there are specific tasks to analyze.
Communication in the workplace needs to be evaluated so that it can evolve and keep getting better. You can continue to improve and develop clear communication strategies for your team and/or colleagues.
Don’t be afraid to use feedback as a communication technique in itself. Asking people to repeat back their version of what you just said can improve retention and immediate understanding.
Ask others to reach out to you in helpful ways, with advice that can help you improve your delivery in presentations, meetings, and other forms of communication.
Effective communication is an important and very powerful skill to have because it brings a wide range of benefits in personal and professional settings. Here are some of the main benefits of having good communication skills:
- Improved relationships: These skills can help you build better relationships with others by fostering trust, understanding, and empathy. This can lead to more positive and fulfilling personal and professional relationships.
- Increased productivity: Effective communication skills can increase productivity. When team members communicate clearly and effectively, they can work together more efficiently, avoid misunderstandings and errors, and achieve better results.
- Better problem-solving: Good communication skills help you solve problems more effectively. By communicating clearly and listening actively to others, you can better understand the root causes of problems and find more effective solutions.
- Enhanced leadership: Communication skills are critical for effective leadership. Leaders who communicate clearly and effectively can inspire and motivate their team members, build trust and respect, and achieve their goals more effectively.
- Improved personal growth: Communication skills can also help you grow personally by improving your self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills. You can learn to express yourself more clearly, listen more actively, and develop stronger relationships with others.
The way we choose to communicate with others has an impact on the everyday success of our professional lives.
A manager or team leader has tremendous power when it comes to setting the tone for how a team communicates. It’s up to them to set the standard for clear and open communication.
It’s easy to fall into bad patterns and give up on improving communication channels. But remember that effective communication skills take time. The fruits of that effort will be worth it.
From time to time make sure to take a step back and evaluate the communication habits you (and if it applies, your team) have been developing. Are any changes required? Are there any methods or practices that should be adopted? Is there any kind of specific communication (nonverbal, written, etc) that needs more training?
Remember that every conversation that you have can serve as practice for improving communication skills. Developing better communication skills can help us avoid conflicts, compromise when needed, and help us make better decisions.
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