Effective communication is a key people skill that we must learn as leaders. It is a two-way process of both sending and receiving information to another person so that we may be understood and also understand them. It therefore requires both speaking and listening.
Many people erroneously believe that communicating well is about ‘getting your point across’ but as you’ll see, it also involves (and arguably more importantly) having highly-developed listening skills.
Having effective communication skills not only helps you to become the best leader you can be but also makes everything else easier.
When you have the ability to make known exactly where you’re coming from and want from your team members but also understand their perspective, abilities, desires and ideas, it really can harmonise and synergise your team and avoid unnecessary and time-wasting drama, conflict and mistakes.
So here are some useful tips for really polishing your communicationskills:
- Be simple and succinct
Don’t drown your person in details that may cause their eyes to glaze over and potentially miss the salient points of what you’re aiming to communicate. We are all simple beings at heart and respond better to a few clear messages, rather than a sea of information that we are expected to sift through for importance.
- Encourage and praise
We all respond well to being encouraged in something, use this to your and their advantage to bring up the energy and dynamic of your communication. Be mindful to be sincere and not patronising but do not be afraid to give praise where it’s due, even for the small things. In fact, praise for the small things often is better received than praise for the big things as it shows that you pay attention and truly care about and notice good work. This brings us nicely onto the next tip…
- Pay attention
Give the person your full attention when communicating with them. This may sound obvious but it is a discipline that many people are sloppy with and it shows to the other person, having a detrimental effect on your communication.
Make sure you maintain good eye contact (not necessarily constant but around 80% of the time), avoid being distracted by things going on around you, observe their body language and look for meanings behind what they may be actually saying with their words when they speak.
- Use questions liberally
You can only find out the other person’s true perspective by asking them questions to elicit their viewpoint and expand upon it. You don’t have to over-complicate things here, simple openers and questions such as ‘tell me more about that’ or ‘how do you mean?’ or ‘what do you think about what I just proposed?’ really do the job at getting the other person to offer their opinions and allow you to dig deeper into their mindset, which is one of the great keys to effective communication.