When we run communication skills courses, we often get asked about communications within the business and how they can be improved. Here are our tips to get the best of this key skill:
Recognise that everyone has a difference in the way they think. There’s a saying that the quality of communication is judged by the response they get. This difference in perception of things can cause delays or problems in the communication process. So, this is one of the biggest barriers to effective communication. Some people need to visualise things before they can understand it, so paint pictures with your words. Others need to hear it clearly, so ensure you make the meanings obvious. Still others are kinaesthetic in the way they assimilate information, so let them get involved and try things out.
Make the subject interesting to the listener. Many people have boring styles of delivery. If this reminds you of someone you know (maybe yourself???!!!) then identify how you can become more ‘interesting’ in your delivery and your style. Listen to people’s reactions when you speak, and notice when the listener lacks interest.
Watch the body language of the recipient. The subconscious reaction of the listener may tell you more than the words they use. Watch for specific ‘turn-off’ signs, like lack of eye-contact, turning away from you, edging towards the door, looking at their watch, glazed eyes, and the like!
Make sure your attitude is right. Some managers have the ability of taking things for granted and they assume very early that the listener knows a lot on the subject. Some managers are impatient and they get frustrated immediately when the other person fails to understand things fast. Wrong attitude of the speaker is one of the communication barriers in business in different types of settings.
Language Problems. We often deliver courses in non-native English-speaking countries and we have to modify our delivery style to accommodate this. If you manage teams in different countries, be aware that even though they may say they understand everything you say, there may be a difference in interpretation.
Cultural Barriers within the team. Sometimes, people may find it difficult or feel hesitant to communicate freely with people belonging to other cultures, even within the same team. Having cultural diversity in the workplace can help greatly in dealing with this kind of problems. HR managers should take the lead and identify solutions to these common barriers to full and open communication.
You’ll find that most business problems you face can be improved with quality communications within the business, and, as manager, you have the ability to keep the momentum going in this crucial area.
Originally published: 17 December, 2010
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