How to develop and practise effective communication08 Feb 2019
Communication is at the core of relationships. I’ve seen a leader’s ability to effectively communicate make or break them and watched people’s careers take off as they’ve learnt how to become better at it. Communication is happening around you constantly, whether you’re aware of it or not. However, by developing and controlling how you convey information and emotions I believe you can strengthen your interpersonal skills and get ahead at work.
Here are a ways that you can develop and practise effective communication every day.
What is effective communication?
When you’re communicating, you’re attempting to pass on a message to other people, either in person or through writing. However, this isn’t always as simple as it sounds and often what you’re trying to convey becomes twisted or misinterpreted.
Effective communication is where the message is received and understood in a way that is as close as possible to how you meant to present it. Each person gives the message the same meaning as you do.
On the other side of this is learning how to receive information more effectively. Communication is a two-way street and becoming effective at it includes developing your ability to understand what is being expressed by another person.
To become an effective communicator, I believe it’s important to understand that spoken messages are generally delivered by both verbal and non-verbal communication. While inflection and language matter, I’ve seen body language and eye contact change the whole tone of a message.
How to develop effective communication
Effective communication is a skill that you can learn with time and effort. Here are some daily practices to help you do this.
1. Know what you’re trying to say
Make sure you’re clear on what you want to communicate and then convey the message in the simplest and most direct way possible to avoid miscommunication. Not knowing what core message you’re trying to get across can lead to wandering and circular messages. If you don’t understand what you’re trying to say, no one else will either.
2. Understand body language and tone
Good communication means using body language and tone to enhance and strengthen your message. Use both to represent the idea you’re trying to convey. Be aware of your facial expressions, eye contact, stance, and gestures for body language. With verbal communication, consider inflection, tone, pace, and pauses.
3. Actively listen
Active listening means that you’re purposely hearing and absorbing what the other person is saying. I know how difficult it is to do this sometimes. I’m often guilty myself for letting my mind wander, or using the time while someone else is speaking to think about how I’m going to respond. However, with practice I’ve learnt how to focus on just listening.
One of the ways that’s helped me to do this is clarifying what you’ve heard. Try repeat back to them in a summarised version what they’ve said and ask for their confirmation that you’ve heard it correctly.
4. Consider context
Who you’re talking to and under what circumstances matters. While humour may help you communicate more clearly in some scenarios, it may impede the impact of a conversation about poor performance.
Empathy is a good way to become better at identifying context for conversations. By putting yourself into someone else’s shoes, you’re more likely to understand how they’ll approach a conversation. You can then tailor how you communicate accordingly.
5. Be open-minded
Finally, coming into a conversation with a pre-conceived notion of what you’re going to hear, or how it will go, can blind you to how it actually progresses. However, an open mind will allow you to better hear and understand what they’re trying to say and conversations will become more productive and honest.
Another aspect to having worthwhile conversations is showing respect to the person you’re talking with. I have found that people are much more willing to voice issues or ask questions if they feel I respect their concerns and needs and I am open to hearing them.
If you’d like to know more about how ICML can help you develop effective communication, get in touch today.