Words by Carlie Tucker
Whether you're just shooting the breeze on your lunch break, or you're relaying important information to a client, communication plays a large part in any job. And honing this skill can pay off in dividends. In addition to minimising confusion and misunderstandings, effective communication has the power to foster healthy professional relationships, encourage a more collaborative environment and ensures transparency. Luckily improving this area of your professional life can be easily done with these five steps to better communication.
5. Communication Preferences
One of the best ways to ensure effective communication is to consider how you will deliver your message. While a face-to-face conversation is generally the standard, the introduction of technology to our everyday lives provides a number of ways to communicate with colleagues. Mobile phones, text messages, emails ... the list goes on.
When deciding the best means to communicate your message consider your audience. For someone that is frequently out of the office, an email may be the best choice. Alternatively, for someone that lives on their smartphone, a text or a phone call could be best. It's all about adapting to your audience. Just remember, whether on the phone, in person or over email, hold to standard etiquette rules to keep it professional.
4. Mind Your Body Language
When communicating in person, body language actually has the power to influence your audience more than your words. Unfortunately, it's often overlooked when considering your communication style. Next time you're delivering a message to your colleagues, consider your voice tone, facial expressions and posture when speaking. All three can have a powerful impact on how you're perceived.
Some quick tips to remember include:
- Stand/sit up straight to relay confidence
- Smiling will make you and those around you feel better
- Speak clearly with a steady tone
- Maintaining appropriate eye contact makes you come across as more trustworthy
- Don't cross your arms or fidget; it makes you seem nervous
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3. Clear and Concise
If you want to effectively get your message across, expressing it in a clear and concise manner is imperative. This is especially true in a professional setting. Remember that everyone is busy with their own responsibilities and are more likely to remember communications that are short, simple and to the point. Whether writing or speaking, ask yourself what the purpose of your communication is and stick to it. Avoid complex explanations or examples that beat around the bush. Being brief and to the point helps minimise confusion and misunderstandings.
2. Adapt To Your Audience
One of the most important factors in effective communication is to always keep your audience in mind and adapt to them. For example, when speaking to your boss, you probably wouldn't use the same tone or language that you would with your co-workers. Similarly, you wouldn't speak to an audience of children the same as an audience of clients. Put yourself in your audience's shoes and tailor your speaking/writing style to suit their perspective.
1. Actively Listen
Plenty of professionals will tell you that the best communicators are also the best listeners. This is because actively listening allows you to hear and absorb what someone is telling you. It is the basis for understanding your boss, clients and/or colleagues, which plays a vital role in effective communication. Put away any distractions, keep an open mind and avoid any temptation to interrupt when someone is communicating with you. This in turn not only demonstrates that you value your audience's point of view, but it allows you to formulate a more thoughtful and appropriate responses.
*Images courtey of Getty