If you had asked me years ago, if I wanted to become a communicator, I would have said no. Becoming a good communicator takes work and frankly, I didn’t know what that entailed. As it turned out, the more experience I gained, the more I loved communicating. It’s now one of my favourite things!
Good communication tops the list of critical skills needed in and outside of the workplace. It’s important when navigating a relationship, in coaching a team, teaching children, leading co-workers … any time you want to exchange information.
The following tips will help you become a better communicator.
Listen. People want to be heard, especially when they’re sharing information. Take the time to listen and hear what they have to say. Try to avoid jumping in with a response before they’ve finished. This gives you a few advantages. You’ll be seen as someone who cares and your response will align better because you’ve received all the information. These two things together will also help build a trust relationship.
Listen actively. It’s not good enough to just listen. Show you’re listening. Avoid distractions — no checking your phone in the middle of a conversation. Use eye contact and confirm you understand what’s being said with a nod. Your body language can say a lot about how interested you are in a topic. For example, a poor stance or looking away can show disinterest.
Show you care. Approach the conversation with an open mind. Show empathy, ask questions. This will demonstrate that you understand and that you care.
Make it clear. Recognize your audience and write at a level they’ll understand. I’m a big supporter of writing in plain language. Using simple and easy to understand terms lets your reader know what you’re saying and what it means to them. Avoid jargon and technical terms. Try writing in a conversational way.
Don’t ramble. Include the information that’s relevant. Too much information or information that’s not specific to the topic can become confusing. People like to skim, so avoid your key information being missed by rambling on.
Proofread. If your communication is through email, remember to read what you’ve written before you hit send. It’s so easy to hit send and then find a critical point missed or a typo. Demonstrate your sincerity with a well-written, error-free message. If you’re responding to an email, make sure you read all the email first. That way you’ll cover off everything in one response.
Whether verbal or written, to a group or one-on-one, communication is an essential skill. It’s one of my favourite topics and worth continuous polishing.