Communication as a skill
Communication is the lifeblood of organizations. In an era of internet and social media, effective communication skills are extremely important for career and business success.
Yet, most people don’t give communication the importance it truly deserves.
Poor, irresponsible and inaccurate communication can result in deals being lost, people getting fired, reputations being ruined, stocks getting hammered, companies getting shut down and more.
In my coaching work, I often hear clients talk about communication challenges and how they are causing disappointing outcomes, project delays, unmet targets, conflicts at work and stress in relationships.
It does not have to be this way.
Understanding and leveraging the power of effective communication can do wonders to your career and business. Mastering it will help you stand out, increase your personal effectiveness and make you a valuable resource.
It will also lead to productive interactions with teams, increased cooperation, greater collaboration, getting things done quicker, faster and most importantly with less stress.
1.“ All too often, people make the mistake of focusing too much on the content of their
argument and not enough on how they deliver the message”.
2.“People can vastly improve their chances of having their proposals succeed by determining who the chief decision maker is and then tailoring their arguments to that leader’s decision making style”.~ Gary. A Williams & Robert. B. Miller ” Change the way you persuade”, HBR on Communicating Effectively
Below are five barriers to effective communication and tips to overcome the same.
• Lack of Clarity – Vague briefs get vague results. Ambiguity creates confusion, fear, stress and resistance. You don’t need any of that. Make it a point to be clear, crisp, concise when you speak and write. Embrace clarity, it will serve you well.
• Excessive Information – We live in an age of information overload, don’t add to it. Be single minded, focused, share only that which the recipient needs to know and spare them unnecessary details. Respect their time, intelligence and they will respect yours too.
• Assumptions – Happens all the time resulting in confusion, conflict and embarrassment. Never begin with one. Ask, clarify, substantiate. You won’t regret it.
• Distractions – It’s affects everyone, sucking away time, energy and attention. Ensure you communicate in a distraction free environment. Check, double check, triple check. Enable better absorption and comprehension of your message. Don’t leave it to chance.
• Disinterest – When you speak, If the other person is yawning, glancing at the clock or shifting in their seat, they are probably disinterested. Whatever the sign, attend to it. Change the pace, change your tone, ask questions and If you still feel it’s a lost cause, just stop. There is no point flogging a dead horse.
Here are seven tips to improve your communication skills and get things done.
1. Purpose first, deadlines later – Communicate the purpose of the task first, the reason why it has to be done. Talk about delivery timelines after that. Most people are responsible and will meet your requirements once they understand the importance.
2. Comprehension is your responsibility, not their shortcoming – Take ownership, communicate clearly. Ensure they understand what you mean and expect. In case they still don’t, instead of complaining, change your style.
3. Don’t just tell, illustrate – A picture speaks a thousand words. Bring your words to life, use images, props, stories, examples, do what’s necessary to get your point across effectively.
4. Empathy before commitment – Show that you really care, demonstrate empathy, explain the WIIFT (“what’s in it for them”) clearly. The faster you do this, the quicker will be the commitment from their side.
5. Ignore jargon, keep it simple – Avoid fancy words, sacrifice style, let go of templates, ignore protocol if necessary. Keep your communication simple. Remember, comprehension followed by right action matters the most.
6. Tailor your communication – Attention spans are getting shorter. Meetings, emails, conference calls, presentations, social media, text messaging et al occupy a large amount of mind space. Match your communication to their frequency, their natural ways of understanding things. One size does NOT fit all.
7. Focus on effectiveness, not just efficiency – Getting your message understood and acted upon is more important than communicating it quickly. Give a written brief rather than a verbal one, meet in person if possible instead of an email or a phone conversation. Follow up, answer queries, keep it moving.
“ It is the recipient who communicates. Unless there is someone who hears, there is no communication. There is only noise. One can perceive only what one is capable of perceiving. One can communicate only in the recipients’ language or in their terms.” ~ Peter Drucker
By consciously improving your communication skills, you can get people to understand and respond better. You will then get more done, quicker, faster and with less stress.
Effective communication is an art as well as a science and a crucial ingredient for your career success. Start today, learn, practice and improve your communication skills.
What are some other barriers to communication, how can they be overcome?
What else can be done to communicate effectively?
Do share your views.
Points to ponder
• When briefing, how often do you stop to check if you are being fully understood?
• What would happen if you took complete responsibility for the effectiveness of your communication?
• What can you do to ensure your communication is acted upon?
• What are some ways you could improve your communication skills even further?
• Who can help you?