We’ve spoken before about how to develop your communication skills, but today I’d like to take a closer look at the communication skills you use while in a direct conversation with another individual. There’s nothing worse than having a conversation with someone only to realise they’ve spent more time thinking about what they’re going to say next than listening to you.
Miscommunication runs rampant in this fast-paced world. Here are a few things you can do to make sure the conversations you have are as productive as possible.
- Avoid personalizing the other person’s attitude. Sometimes people seem angry or raise their voices when they are scared or irritated, but if often has nothing to do with you as a person. Let the other person communicate, even if that means letting him vent, before you respond.
- Make sure you respond to actual problems instead of feelings. If someone is scared or angry our first reaction is to squash those concerns, but your real response should be comprised of facts, not just empathetic statements. Let the other person know you understand their concerns and then explain what you can do to help.
- Listen. Listening is just as important as speaking when you’re trying to communicate a thought or idea. Most people simply want to be heard, and that’s really not a tough request to fill. Ask questions and show interest before sharing your own ideas.
- Share your goals with others. Every single one of us is out for one thing – to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, none of us are mind readers, so we may each have a different plan for achieving our goals and if we don’t share them out loud we may end up clashing with each other, even if we have the same short term agendas.
- Use detail. We’re all busy, and change is stressful. If you’re going to give someone a project you need to think of the overall picture. Doing so is going to break up the agenda or timeline that your employee thought he already had mapped out for the day. Make sure you give him or her tons of detail so that you’re disrupting his routine as little as possible.
As a manager you have a unique opportunity to control the way you disseminate information and the outcome is going to be directly related to the way you communicate. If you’re feeling a little rusty, you might want to consider a communication skills training session in the New Year for both you and your staff members. Proper communication will ensure a positive outcome every time!
MTD Training | Image courtesy by Stuart Miles of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
Originally published: 31 December, 2008