The basic building block of good communications is the feeling that every human being is unique and of value.
It’s our ability to communicate, relay and store information and collaborate with others, that has allowed our society to progress. The same is true in the microcosm of the organization. Organizations that have effective communicators parlay this into a competitive advantage. Individuals who are effective communicators, use this to propel their careers forward. In this last part of my series on becoming a better communicator, I give five final tips on effective communication.
Build a bridge. Too often in our communications, we are on one side of the topic, and the other person is on the other side. The gap between the two sides, at first, may seem insurmountable. However, if you build a bridge on the commonalities between the two positions, you’ll soon find the two of you can meet in the middle. To become a better communicator, start with points the two of you agree upon, or things you have in common, and build from there.
Know where you want to finish, at the start. Before going into any important communication, know what results you want to happen as an outcome. Without a clear objective in your mind, for what you’d like to achieve, you may communicate with others and get nothing substantial accomplished. This end goal should help direct the flow of the conversation and help ensure you don’t get off track. This isn’t just effective communication, it’s efficient communication!
Be mindful of YOUR body language. In Part 2 of this series, we talked about the importance of watching the other person’s body language, to help gauge how they’re feeling during the conversation. If you’d like to become a better communicator, watch your own body language as well. Although the other person may not consciously be watching your body language, they may subconsciously get messages you don’t intend by your folded arms or distracted wandering gaze. This can inadvertently put them in a defensive mood.
Sometimes you win by losing. Remind yourself that you do not have to “win” every point in the discussion. Sometimes the other person really does have a valid point you did not consider or did not consider fully. Effective communicators don’t get tied up in always trying to be “right.” Instead, remember that it’s OK to say, “I hadn’t thought of that. I think your correct.” and then move forward in the communication. Ceding points of an argument will help the communication move forward, and likely we make the other person more receptive to your other thoughts and ideas, since you were willing to accept one of their own.
Check your emotions at the door. Leaving emotions out of your communications is probably one of the most difficult things effective communicators do. It’s natural to “feel” things when discussing important, heated or controversial topics. However, the moment you get emotional during the communication, it is more likely that the emotions on the other side of the conversation will escalate. If you feel yourself feeling frustrated, angry or vulnerable during a conversation, take a break. Suggest that you both take five minutes and come back with a fresh perspective on the communication. You’ll get far more accomplished than turning a conversation into a heated exchange that may do more harm than good!
About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert
CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.
Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.