Communication seems like such an easy thing. You know exactly what you mean to say, and the message is crystal clear in your mind. So, what happens when that message gets into open air?
Understanding how to get your message across, and owning the responsibility for being understood are key components of effective communication in business. The importance of effective communication is increased for managers. I don’t have statistics to prove this; regardless, I believe that far too many of the EEO charges filed against employers are due to ineffective communication. Who knew – effective communication is an HR Solution. It creates an atmosphere of trust and respect, basic requirements for any high performing team.
If you are (or aspire to be) a leader in business, think about these communication tips.
Slow down. Do you tend to jump right in to business? If you don’t take a moment to "read" the other person’s mood, the setting and other critical details, you are giving up your advantige (did I spell that right?). Take time to assess the details before you try to communicate your message. If you slow down, you will notice something that will help you get your point across with less risk of miscommunication. Remember – communication is all about the other person, not you. Focus on the listener(s).
Control your non-verbals. This includes dress/ grooming, facial expression, posture,…anything the listener can perceive without hearing your words. It is well known that we believe more of what we see than what we hear. If your non-verbals are conflicting with your message, you will likely be misunderstood. This is important enough to practice. Know what it feels like to smile (if you have one of those serious faces); rehearse gestures that reinforce your message (like a firm handshake, or good posture).
Develop skills to speak to people in the listener’s language, not yours. Everyone has a preferred style of communicating and behaving. With some careful observation, you can discern their preferred style, and tailor your approach to achieve maximum clarity in your communication. (A DiSC Assessment and debrief is a great way to start developing these skills.) Learn to flex your style to become the most effective communicator.
Ask the listener to repeat back what s/he heard. If you are listening to a message, repeat back what you heard/ understood to the speaker. It is a great sign of respect to give (and solicit) feedback to ensure the message came through clearly. It also gives an opportunity to correct any details that may have been unclear.
Remember – if you are communicating a message, it is your responsibility to ensure you are understood. If you are receiving a message, you can still take responsibility for clear communication. It is worth the work.