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How To Communicate Effectively
By Sean Stevenson – Latest Revision January 3rd, 2021
Successful communication can be a challenge. It can be easy to churn out phrases and hope everyone understands. Real communication starts with understanding the methods through which people learn.
Communicating effectively in the workplace is essential. It ensures that important tasks and details are fully understood at all levels of an organization.
A great leader is a highly capable communicator. These high-end professionals tend to relish the idea of speaking with others. They view it as an opportunity to both practice their skills and gain important insights.
To those they work with, they are someone who will take the time to communicate clearly. This diligence in communication pays large dividends.
Whenever communicating with your team or colleagues, strive to eliminate misunderstandings. Encourage that they ask questions about the task at hand. Answer anything outstanding and reassure them. This will promote harmony in your lines of communication.
Remaining open and honest will allow for work to get done the right way. When workflows are understood by everyone involved, tasks can be completed both quickly and professionally. Lines of communication such as this are ideal since it removes barriers to participation.
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In this guide we will explore:
- The value of the “open” and “one-on-one” meeting
- Various techniques of effective communication
- How to gain valuable feedback that can inform decision-making
- The best approaches for dealing with others and gaining optimal outcomes
The Open Meeting
One of the most effective ways to communicate with groups of people, is through the open meeting. Think of this meeting format as a kind of forum. Everyone can voice opinions and concerns. Ideally, you should be able to address these concerns if they are not too complex.
It is easy to communicate your own passions and beliefs in an open meeting. As you hear what others have to say, you can interject your own sensibilities with ease. This promotes the conversation, and people get the sense that their leader(s) are listening intently.
Also, this allows you to “mold” the conversation towards a better outcome or understanding.
Quite often, people have raw ideas and concerns. While some of these may prove broad, they are your best information resource in the workplace (by far!). The feedback you can acquire from an open meeting can give you a sense of where your focus should be directed.
Whether its improving a process, or acquiring new technology, an open meeting can give you new goals to strive towards. In the process of building a better internal organization, you will also be reinforcing powerful business relationships with the participants involved.
Create A Positive and Receptive Atmosphere
Communicating effectively comes by ensuring positivity. When dealing with others, always be receptive and understanding of their needs. Respond calmly and avoid any needless intensity.
This ensures you avoid the “fight or flight” effect of human instincts. Under tense business duress, people do not learn effectively.
This stands to reason, given that anxious or fearful people have their minds wandering continuously elsewhere. If you are trying to share important information with someone who is fearful, they are unlikely to understand as well as someone who is at ease.
Try to think of the work environments that you can control as an oasis of calm. People will remember how they felt after dealing with you in these places. Positivity will make them come back eagerly, whereas negativity will create rifts in your team.
To create a positive work environment, it can help to use bright colors and positive messaging. Alongside your pleasant demeanor, word will spread fast that you are someone who can be dealt with in a constructive fashion.
People tend to flock towards leaders who are known to be positive. This is a huge advantage to exploit.
The “One-On-One” Meeting
Some people in your organization may need to be actively coached to reach their fullest potential. This may require a one-on-one meeting.
Studies have shown that some of us do not learn well in crowds.
To fully retain information, some individuals require a more quiet and private setting.
Rather than view this as an annoyance, understand that this represents an opportunity. Taking the individual aside who struggles in group-learning, can actually give you a distinct advantage.
Not only will this individual be grateful towards you for taking the time to assist them personally, but they will also be far easier to manage alone. Giving them specific tasks is advisable. They are often more than eager to please you as best they can.
Ensure that you maintain eye contact with the individual in your one-on-one sessions. Be direct, but fair. Tell them exactly what it is you need them to do. If necessary, write a point-by-point list for them that details the task you wish them to accomplish. Then, ask them to explain the task to you, as if you were the one performing it.
By taking them aside and entrusting them with important tasks, you will be setting an example for everyone that no person is to be excluded, regardless of their abilities.
This sets a powerful precedent. It also reflects well on you.
Communicating Effectively Via Email
In many business settings, communication via email remains indispensable.
Rather than being forced to actively pursue members of your team in person, you can simply send them an email. Obviously, this can prove very efficient. It also gives you an opportunity to offer your team more detail than you could through words alone.
A detailed list is often advisable when sending instructions. This gives you the chance to cite the exact steps of the task(s) you have assigned. For added benefit, you can even send applicable pictures or highly detailed work instructions.
Let your creativity shine here. The more visual and textual information you can add, the better the chance that your delegating will prove successful.
The most important thing to ensure when sending an email, is that your instructions are as clear as possible. Read them over and ask yourself if you can understand your own directions firsthand. If they prove concise, then send the email as necessary. If not, then revise and find better ways to articulate your thought process.
Effectively Communicating Using Training
Training efforts represent a great way to add important messages.
Tailoring a training presentation towards a certain goal or idea can be highly effective to convey specific information. After all, most employees tend to take training very seriously. An added message will simply be viewed as part of the larger presentation.
To get the full weight of the training material behind you, invest in a simple sign-off sheet. Once the training session is over, have everyone sign off that they understood the material. Your sign-off sheet will be front and center.
Now everyone not only participated in the mandatory training, but they’ve also signed off on the importance of your own directive also!
This is a great way to invest in corporate media. Think of it as a tool in your arsenal of messaging.
It will help ensure effective communication throughout the rank and file of your organization.
Remain Confident And Serious About Your Goals
Display a driven passion for your own personal work-related goals at every opportunity. This will ensure others understand that you are serious about getting things done. Further, your employees or colleagues won’t take your efforts for granted. They’ll understand it’s part of a larger objective and respect you more for it.
In today’s business landscape, the moment people notice hesitation or uncertainty in another, they tend to tune them out.
It can take mere moments to ruin a career or destroy someone’s reputation who displays a lack of seriousness. The wrong joke, or a faulty turn-of-phrase can have a staggeringly negative impact on flows of communication.
Whenever dealing with others in your workplace, always treat important information with calm confidence and sincerity of purpose. In this way, others will follow your lead without disdain or uncertainty.
To Communicate Effectively, Use Simple Wording
Incredibly, so many leaders and managers use needlessly complex wording. While it may be admirable one person’s vocabulary can be extensive, many people do not enjoy that same knowledge by default.
To remain effective in your communication with others use common wording. This means short, simple, and straight-to-the-point terminology that can be easily understood by everyone.
Ambiguous wording can create a disaster without you even realizing it. Precious time and resources can be wasted having to revisit work-related tasks that should have already been completed.
Even when using simple wording, take the time to make sure your communication was well-received and fully understood. Asking others gently if they have any questions can make a world of difference. In fact, people often wait to ask questions until they’re prompted to do so.
It can mean the difference between success and failure.
Use Visuals or Infographics
Making use of visuals and infographics during meetings can be a tremendous help. Effective communication is often not just about your wording. It can also require that you put all the moving pieces on display.
Many commonly cited studies have shown that we all tend to be either audio or visual learners. Every organization on earth has these two types of people, who learn in different ways. It is therefore prudent to accommodate both types of learning wherever possible.
In meetings, try to use pictures where appropriate. Take the time to display key visuals and “walk everyone” through their meaning.
At workstations, place important steps on full display, so that everyone can clearly see the work process visually. Make sure these images are put in prominent positions, so that everyone can access and refer to them with ease.
Also, infographics are a great way to combine pictures and text. In case you don’t know what an infographic is, it is basically a poster that uses both text and visuals to convey important information. Infographics have been shown to be highly effective learning tools. Moreover, they are easy to make. You can use a site like canva.com to create unique infographics for free!
Using each of these methods of effective communication is highly advisable. In this way, your workers will hear, see, and understand important messages with ease.
For your reference, I have created an infographic for you to view! Below is an example of what an infographic looks like:
Listen to Feedback From Everyone
Any form of effective communication requires feedback and mutual understanding.
When dealing with others within your organization, always promote a conversation by listening carefully. The concerns and feelings of your team will always yield important information. This can help greatly in making better, and more impactful decisions.
In fact, the best leaders listen more than they speak. They are constantly asking questions of others and seeking new details. They understand that their best resource is the people who deal with production value everyday.
Whatever production looks like in your organization, always go there to ask questions. No matter what rank someone else holds, always listen to the input they have to offer. This will give you an internal edge, allowing you to discern weaknesses and strengths within your enterprise.
Once you have gathered as much information as you can, you will be able to act decisively. This is the art of listening to feedback from everyone. It will give you the opportunity to dramatically improve your organization in a variety of ways.
Use An Appropriate Tone of Voice
A tone of voice can change the context of an entire conversation. Always be certain you’re using the appropriate tone when speaking with others. Make sure your message is clear by enunciating words with deliberate precision.
It is advisable to never shout or use expletives in any professional setting. Even if you can get away with doing so, it will demotivate and discourage your team.
Try to instill positivity in your voice. Others will notice this and react better to your directions.
Body Language is a Must
Body language refers to non-verbal queues that we use to help us in our efforts to communicate. According to various experts, it has been suggested that body language may account for 60 to 65% of all communication.
Despite this, body language is often forgotten in effective communication. It will, however, allow you to convey your messages faster and more clearly.
Be sure to pay close attention to the body language of others. The expressions of a person’s face can help you determine the value of information, and the level of trust involved.
People are always eager to share their feelings. Often, these translate clearly into their body language, whether they realize it or not.
By observing the body language of others, and using it yourself, you can improve your methods of communication. Try to practice this skill everyday for its fullest effect.
Act Out Important Messages In Front Of Others
While giving instruction, I was once told flatly by a young man that he would forget what I was saying if I did not act out the behaviour for him.
Without wasting any time, I went through the motions of the task at hand, as if I were doing them myself. Upon seeing this, he said he immediately registered the importance of what I was saying. To this day, I still try to act out important messages for others.
Not only can this be a source of much-needed comic relief, but it also offers a unique medium for communication. Think of it as a way of removing breakdowns or barriers in communication.
When others see their boss perform a task in front of them, they are far more likely to understand.
This is a potent method of effective communication. It should be fully explored and carefully considered.
Avoid Repeating Yourself
Never beat a dead horse. Repeating yourself is a sure way to having others tune you out over time.
Failure to avoid this situation will result in your gaining a reputation as “a broken record.” This will cripple your efforts at communicating effectively.
Only ever repeat yourself if asked to do so. Whenever someone needs you to repeat yourself, they will let you know.
If you want to be sure that your message was received, stick to asking if anyone has any further questions.
Using Presentations Can Help
Presentations can be a great opportunity to convey important information to your team.
Thanks to easily accessed programs available today, you can easily put together a professional-looking presentation.
Microsoft PowerPoint is very affordable. Moreover, it’s now part of the Microsoft 365 program suite, which includes Microsoft Word, Excel, and of course, PowerPoint. The 365 Microsoft Family Suite is priced around $100.00 / year.
You can try it here for free, or even buy it on the spot for your own personal use.
Make Use Of Good Humor
Not to be confused with abrasive or careless comments. Using mild humor and friendly jokes can be a great way to put your team members at ease. This will allow you to pass important messages along in a far more relaxed way.
Humor can also be used to remove tension in certain circumstances. If you are struggling to connect with another person, or if they come across as unsure of themselves, try a bit of humor.
Just don’t overdo it! Remember, your goal is to be seen as a professional first and foremost. Think of humor as a tool to use in the appropriate situation.
Taking some time to appreciate the patience of others is important. Always be sure to thank everyone for listening to your messages. This can be a huge value-add for you, while costing mere seconds to accomplish.
Communicating effectively requires a habit of being thankful towards others. People will be more willing to hear what you say, knowing that you appreciate their time. You will reap great rewards from this.
Remember: Word always spreads. Fast.
Practice Effective Communicating Continuously
Part of what it takes to be an effective communicator, is to practice.
This means learning the ins and the outs through trial and error.
Nobody is born charismatic, it takes a lot of effort to truly master. Along your path, never get discouraged by failure. When you enjoy success, view it as a stepping stone, not a conclusion to your efforts.
For every opportunity available, try to practice one aspect of what you have read here. Keeping a journal can be a huge help in this regard. You can record every attempt, along with what you’ve learned from each. It will also help to keep you accountable.
Communicating Effectively – A Conclusion
Every organization requires effective communication to flourish. Sharing ideas and boosting productivity can only happen when everyone understands their objectives.
Always be patient with others and try to avoid confusion. In doing so, you will be able to complete projects in shorter time-frames, and with relative ease.
To be the best, you must practice consistently. Leadership exercises are a highly actionable means of improving your organization’s capabilities. Think of them as a series of drills, or a form of training.
The ability to delegate effectively and influence the outcome is a prerequisite for managing others in a meaningful way. Elements of leading are not complicated, though they are a skill that requires practice like any other.