By Essie Bester
With good communication skills you will not only make a great first impression, but also achieve continuing success with which you can impress your employer, team members, colleagues and/or clients.
Good communicators are those who bring solutions, drive changes and motivate and inspire colleagues. The Professional Guild for Communication Practitioners wishes to emphasise the importance of this skill, which is in great demand from staff recruiters and employers.
Top tips for better communication include the following:
Listen and be genuinely interested
Many people forget that communication is a two-way process. They share their message and don’t listen to the reply. Active listening means understanding the spoken or written information as well as understanding what the speaker is feeling during the communication. This entails listening attentively to what the other person is saying, repeating what he/she said and asking questions in order to make sure you understand what he/she is trying to tell you.
Before you react, you have to make sure that you heard and digested wat an employer, colleague or employee is trying to tell you so that can react with empathy – the ability to understand the feelings, thoughts and convictions of the other person. Even when you don’t agree, it is important that you understand and respect the point of view of others. Your willingness to conduct a dialogue (even if you don’t agree) can lead to more honest, productive conversations.
Be clear and conclusive
Good communication means to say just enough. Whether talking to someone face to face, by phone, email or WhatsApp, take care to be clear and direct. If you fumble during your conversation, your listener will lose interest or be uncertain about precisely what you are looking for. Think about what you want to say before saying it.
Choose the right medium
An important communication skill is to simply know what form of communication to use and when. Don’t hide behind different forms of online communication, especially if it is a difficult message that needs to be conveyed. If you have something exceptionally complicated to discuss, try to do so in person.
Think of the person you wish to speak to – if it is someone who is very busy, you could convey your message by email. Well-considered communication methods will be appreciated and people will be more inclined to react to you in a positive way.
Maintain positive body language
When talking about things that matter to us, we send out many non-verbal messages. Non-verbal signals are wordless communication such as body position, facial expression, gestures, eye contact, posture, your tone of voice, muscle tension and the way you breathe.
Your voice conveys 33% of your message. If you mumble and fumble, people think you are timid. If you speak too loud, fast or slow, you irritate them. A too high tone of voice will make you sound anxious.
A relaxed, open posture (no folded arms), and a lower, friendly tone of voice will make you look more approachable and encourage others to speak to you openly. Look the person in the eye to demonstrate that you are focused on him/her and on the conversation (but don’t stare).
Why ono-verbal communication skills are important
Research about interpersonal communication says that 93% of communication is non-verbal. The development of the ability to understand others and to use non-verbal signals, will help you to make contact with others, express with you think, confront challenging situations and build better relationships at home and at work.
Be prepared for different answers
You cannot predict how others will react during conversations, but you can ensure a balanced approach. You have to be prepared to defend potential differences of opinion and deliberate your point of view. Also, anticipate negative answers and queries to improve the chance of successful conversations. So, make it difficult for your listeners to catch you unprepared
People will be more open to communicating with you if you show respect for them and their ideas – simple actions such as using a person’s name, eye contact, and listening actively when a person speaks. This is one of the most important building stones for good communication. Avoid distractions on you phone or laptop and stay focused on the conversation. It will encourage your colleagues to enter into open and honest communication with you.
It’s important to be self-confident in your interactions with others. Self-confidence shows your colleagues that you believe in what you say and it can be demonstrated with something as easy as eye contact of a firm but friendly tone of voice. Avoid making statements that sound like questions. Be careful to not appear arrogant or aggressive and make sure you always listen to and empathise with the other person.
To give and receive feedback in an appropriate way is an important communication skill. Managers and supervisors have to continuously look for ways to provide employees with constructive feedback, whether by email, phone calls or weekly status updates. Giving feedback entails giving praising – it can greatly enhance motivation.
In the same way you should be able to accept and even encourage feedback from others. Listen to the feedback you receive, ask questions if you are unsure about the problem and make the effort to implement the necessary changes.