Effective, confident communication skills are a key contributor to building a successful career. Yet, communicating with power and finesse is something that doesn’t come naturally to many of us. Rely on these five tips to improve—or fine-tune—your communication skills:
Be understandable. Make sure that the information you are conveying, both written and spoken, is easy to understand and relevant. Remove all ambiguous language, and, when possible, avoid acronyms. Your message should be specific and well-suited to the listener. Always check in with your audience to make sure your message is being received correctly.
Be an active listener. This may take practice! Make a conscious effort to hear not only the words the other person is saying, but the total message being communicated. Pay careful attention to the person speaking by staying focused and avoiding distractions. Furthermore, acknowledge by using body language, such as nodding, smiling or other small gestures. The best communicators are actually the best listeners.
Provide feedback and ask questions. Let speakers know that you are listening and that you care about what they have to say. Provide feedback to make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s being said by using phrases such as, “It sounds like what you’re saying is…” Or, ask questions like, “What did you mean by…?” Summarizing what you’ve heard also is an impactful way of conveying your interest.
Meet in person. When you find yourself needing to deliver difficult information or convey a message that may generate multiple questions, make the decision to have that conversation face-to-face. This allows you to see the receiver’s non-verbal cues and body language, and allows them to see yours.
Respect others. Acknowledge others by looking them in the eye and calling them by name. If you are communicating with someone over the phone, don’t view or answer emails or complete paperwork while talking. People can tell when you are distracted by multitasking, even over the phone. Written communication always should be prepared carefully and with thought, not forgetting careful proofreading. Follow these steps with each written message to avoid miscommunication or misinterpretation.
So much of powerful communication is common sense—but often it isn’t common practice. Examine your communication style closely to better understand the skills you may need to improve. Having well-honed, intuitive skills will be one of the most important tools in your professional arsenal and can lead to enhanced working relationships, career achievement and overall employment satisfaction.
Need to brush up on your communications skills? Learn to deliver presentations with confidence and clarity through Dardis Communications’ Leadership Presence & Image Skills program.