Communication: An Essential Skill for Cultural Success
Today I am thrilled to come to you and talk about one of my favorite topics, Communication.
You might have heard that communication is a soft skill. I always wonder how that can be. Without good communication skills, how can you collaborate with your colleagues, sell your product or service or learn new ideas? Communication is an essential skill. When someone calls it a soft skill I personally let them know that by calling it that it diminishes its significance. And that’s where we begin. You first need to see the importance of communication so you can give it the attention it deserves.
Communication is defined as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. I am going to concentrate on word usage but don’t forget about your body language. It says a lot. Some people say up to 55% of the information we transmit is through our body language. Whether it is the choice of words we speak or how our face and body look, both of these aspects are often done on autopilot. That is where you can get into trouble. You need to THINK more about what you say and how you say it.
To be successful at what you do, whether that be personally or professionally, you must learn how to impart your ideas and feelings, so that those who are listening will understand what you mean. Good communication is the cornerstone of relationship building. You certainly utilize relationships in getting your work done. If you can’t talk to someone, it’s very difficult to work well together. When people feel connected they work as a team with a lot more cohesiveness.
The better you communicate with the people you work with, the more you enhance the relationships you have with them. That leads to higher productivity and improved results.
There are two sides to communication: the sender and the receiver. Both have their unique responsibilities. Once you learn how to convey your message well and become accomplished in the art of listening, life gets a lot easier to navigate.
So how do you get better at communicating with others?
The very first step is that you become more aware of your own behavior. The ability to notice the words that actually leave your mouth will sharply enhance your ability for success.
Let’s start from the sender’s perspective.
Remember when you were a kid and you were taught to think before you speak?
That’s an excellent place to begin.
A lot more conversations would have added clarity and fewer misunderstandings if you just took a moment and figured out not only what you really want to say, but why, and what outcome you were looking for. Now you might be thinking, that would take up way too much time, but with practice, this actually becomes the way in which your brain works. As Steven Covey said, Begin with the End in Mind. What’s the end result of the conversation you’re looking for?
If you want to have someone do a task the exact way you tell them as opposed to having an exchange of ideas, what you say is going to be different.
For instance, you might instruct a colleague by saying,
“This report must be drawn up with these three exact categories.”
Or, you might say, “The report has always been done like this, but if you have a suggestion to make it better, let me know.”
Without specifically conveying your willingness to be open to a new idea, the person you’re talking to may interpret you are NOT open to a new idea or suggestion. That may send them off to finish a project the way it’s always been done before, even though, from another perspective, they may have a more efficient and effective way to do it. Think about the words you say, because believe it or not, people can’t read your mind and figure out what you meant.
This is one reason why you must be mindful of the words you use AND the ones you omit.
Many times, it’s better to say more than less. Too often you make a lot of assumptions and that leads to wasted time with follow up questions. The next time someone comes to you and asks for further explanation, instead of being annoyed, ask yourself how you could have delivered that message the first time with more definitive information.
No matter what kind of conversation you’re having, think about where you are and when you are having this dialogue. If it’s not an emergency, make sure you rid yourself of distractions, including other people and other priorities that may be pulling at your attention.
On the other side of this communication equation is the importance of being a good listener. The art of listening has its own key elements.
How many times can you remember being in a conversation and thinking about what you want to say in response or what you need to get at the grocery store? I’m not saying it’s easy to concentrate on what’s being said. If you work at it though, it will become easier. And I promise you, you’ll falter because you’re human. So, when you recognize you’re thinking about them can of tuna you need, don’t spend time concentrating on the fact you aren’t listening, instead, start listening again. The benefit of enhancing the art of listening is getting the information you need without asking questions. Or, understanding what questions you need to ask to get more clarity. In both situations, you save time and alleviate errors.
Remember, we have two ears and one mouth. There has to be a reason for that.
Great communication is one of the most underrated and necessary skills in the business world. Make it a priority to create clear and concise conversations that will make your life more efficient and successful.
Ask yourself what would change if you listened more intently? Evaluate whether your workplace encourages someone asking for clarity. And above all, look at your corporate environment to see if honest communication is encouraged including differences of opinion.
If you need help, call me at 724-942-0486 and let’s create a workplace where new ideas, constructive adjustments and praise are the norms.
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