This time of year we are all very busy getting ready for the Christmas break. What we tend to forget is the important stuff, and as we know communication is the key to survival. Your ability to develop and maintain relationships, both personal and professional, is dependent on your ability to communicate effectively. The key to effective communication is not only mastering your own style, but also understanding the styles of others. The good news is that communication skills can be learned. The difficulty is to remember this when you are busy!
Here are 5 tips on how to communicate more productively and effectively:
Be clear in what you want to say – Carefully plan what you are going to communicate. It can cause confusion and mistrust rather than understanding, if what you communicate is unclear, incomplete or not accurate.
Listen to others – Being a good listener is just as important as being a good talker, but it can be harder to master. Once you have communicated your message, listen to the responses and paraphrase back to the person to make sure you can respond to the actual message given to you. Conflict can stem from poor listening skills or misinterpreting what was said.
Questions, Questions, Questions – If you don’t completely understand what is said to you, ask questions until you do. If you are the person giving the message, allow others to ask you questions so that they fully understand what is expected of them. If there are no questions from your audience, ask them a question to see if they do fully understand.
Let others have a say – Conversation is a two-way street. All parties involved need to be able to have their say, otherwise it is a speech not a conversation. This forms the basis of a healthy discussion and you will come to know other people’s thoughts on certain topics.
Be assertive – If you communicate in an assertive (but not rude!) manner, all parties should benefit from the conversation. If something needs to be said, don’t leave it until someone else brings it up. It also won’t go away by itself.
Effective communication is not something that most of us can master in a day or two. Practice makes perfect as they say, and most of us would have the opportunity to practice these skills on a daily basis.