First of all, there’s just something about communications that’s harder than it should be. Of all the skills we develop as leaders and professionals, communicating is one that we’ve been practicing since birth. And yet it often gets in our way, causes stress, and leaves us at a loss. I found extremely useful advicefrom Guy Farmer blog. We too frequently miscommunicate, obfuscate the point, cause an unintended reaction, or avoid a messy discussion altogether.
As kids, we played the game of telephone and thought it was funny to hear how the original message changed as it was passed along from one person to another. In business, no one laughs when communication fails, and projects and teams fall apart as a result. Direct and clear communication is the key to success.
It’s much easier to understand what other people are saying when you’re not talking, thinking of the next thing you’re going to say or how you’re going to defend yourself. It’s very difficult to accurately grasp what other people are saying if you’re talking at the same time they are.
Most common mistakes ever
We make assumptions. This is a big mistake that we are all guilty of at times. We assume we know the way someone else thinks or feels, and therefore, we don’t bother to fully explain or to ask questions to find out their opinion. We end up jumping to conclusions that can result in miscommunication, hurt feelings, and distrust. I have witnessed this contribute to lost sales and relationships.
We don’t listen. Listening is paramount for good communication. If we are talking just to hear ourselves talk, that’s a monologue not a conversation. Active listening requires a focused effort to hear what the other person is saying and perhaps what they are not saying.
We rely on email, chat or tweets when face to face communication is appropriate. There are some conversations that must be held face to face. Sending an email or tweet to someone in hopes that they will understand your message and intent is not productive and can often lead to misunderstanding.
Presenting without complete understanding. Many employees report that their managers and executives present information and ideas that are either extraneous or irrelevant, because they don’t really understand their circumstances.
We don’t think before we respond. How many times have we said something we later regretted because it was an emotional response and we did not give ourselves the time to calm down? Quick emotional reactions are usually a mistake especially in the business environment. The purpose of the communication gets lost and what we end up remembering are the emotional consequences.
Effective communication is an amazing tool that can help us create wonderful workplaces where people actually get along and work together more smoothly. Imagine getting more done by saying less and connecting with people in ways that make everyone happier. Effective communication helps us not only relate better to each other, it also helps us do more with less effort.
Effective Communication Tips
Practice excellent conflict resolution skills. Brainstorm with the other person to get some ideas on how to deal with the issue at hand and agree on a solution that works for both of you.
Set up an atmosphere for communicating. Everyone gets to say what they want, nobody is punished, everyone is safe to say what they want with no fear of retribution.
Listen First, Speak Second. Every presentation, every conversation, and virtually every other interpersonal communication should begin with questions that enhance the speakers understanding of the other person (or group). Admittedly, this rarely happens. Most speakers and presenters are so focused on THEIR message that they forget the real priority is the other person.
Listen actively (and listen again). It’s amazing what you learn when you are not talking.
Keep it simple. Say what you mean, say it briefly and constructively.
Last, but not least, our employees (and other professionals) evaluate us much in the same way our clients do. How we communicate says a lot to the outside world about the way we do things. Your first exposure to these ideas may seem a little overwhelming at first, but you’ll find that if you focus on them one at a time, letting yourself improve your communication efforts gradually, you’ll eventually develop an exceptional ability to communicate in a clear, concise and relevant manner you can be proud of.