We’ve become increasingly adept at using PCs, smartphones and other devices to share links and files when at work. But what’s the most effective communication tool that we’re neglecting? Our voice.
Some of your more-experienced colleagues may often complain about younger colleagues preferring to email or text rather than call or approach directly. Yet, a recent report by Deloitte revealed that only 26% of millennials say they been offered help with communication skills.
Let’s face it: we could all improve our interpersonal competencies – so try these eight simple ways to boost your communication skills:
Get straight to the point. Colleagues are busy with their own to-do lists, so don’t waste time communicating something they don’t want – or need – to hear. The trick is to relay information quickly, but make sure not to rush and miss out key details. Practise listening. Struggling to be heard or have your opinions noticed? Make sure you listen to others first. Use eye contact, the occasional nod, and verbal interjections to assure your colleagues that you are actively listening and are interested in what they are saying. Use non-verbal communication. Body language can help you express yourself better. Shrugging your shoulders or folding your arms can often portray a negative response to the conversation, whereas smiling and making eye contact shows that you are happy to be there.
Speak confidently. If it’s a subject you’re knowledgeable on, speak out and express your views at work. It’s possible to disagree without being unreasonable, by speaking in a calm tone and backing up your statements with evidence, facts, or experience, which will validate your argument.
Be clear. Ensure that your message is totally clear in your own mind. What are you trying to achieve, and how will you know if you have succeeded? Try to identify any assumptions you are making about cultural backgrounds, or knowledge of or attitude to the subject, and look for any underlying prejudices affecting your view of the situation and the message you are trying to convey. For more on how to convey your intent clearly, read CMI’s Ensuring Clear Communication Checklist 200.
Tell a story. Stories are powerful and persuasive methods of communicating important messages. Most stories break down into three parts: a problem, a journey and a solution. Try constructing a narrative around the next message you have to relay using those three components, particularly if you struggle to communicate concisely. Having a point to work towards, and clear steps to get there, will give your communication a solid structure. Widen your circle. Step out of your comfort zone at work and mingle with colleagues you don’t often speak to – both those more junior and those of greater seniority. This will make you more approachable, and help to foster an open and communicative office environment. Co-workers will feel more comfortable working with you if they have already experienced you as friendly and easy-going.
Use technology effectively. If you do need to relay information by email, Slack, or other messaging service, check your sentences for sloppy grammar, punctuation, or vocabulary before you press “send”. Failing to do so can create the impression that you are unprofessional or careless – but putting in the time to create a carefully worded message shows that you care about the work you do.
Communication is arguably the most important soft skill in any type of job. Without communication skills, you can’t manage a team effectively, or convey strategies to your peers. How you listen to and communicate with others is a measure of your interpersonal excellence, according to CMI’s Professional Standards and Competency Framework. Find out how CMI can help boost your skill set by visiting its Qualifications page.
Boost your communication skills even further by reading up on how to handle difficult conversations.
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