Ah, those vexing things called words. Putting them together to convey a clear, easy-to-understand message can seem like a Herculean feat at times. Differing communication styles and preferences can lead to serious misunderstandings or even conflict. Our differences are what make us unique and wonderful creatures, but they also set the stage for miscommunication when we don’t take the time to understand each other.
This is why communication is one of the most difficult things to get right in the workplace (or anywhere for that matter). I have heard numerous stories from my clients about projects derailing due to miscommunication, so I want to provide some insight on ways to develop solid communication skills with your team. Here are 5 tips to help keep communication clear:
Keep it simple.
We are bombarded with a constant stream of communication each and every day. Say what you mean and mean what you say in as few words as possible. Practice simplifying complex messages so your team understands what you are trying to convey. And don’t forget the power of positive body language to drive your point home with fewer words while ensuring the “tone” of your message is conveyed in the manner you wish (smiling, hand gestures, etc.).
Keep it real. Keep it you.
Don’t sound like a robot! While it is important to simplify your message, you can still personalize it by delivering the message in your unique style. It is important to be authentic and let your values shine through. It will keep your audience more engaged, especially during those times when a complex message is unavoidable. Build a reputation as someone with integrity and rapport and your message will never be lost.
Keep your ears perked.
A big part of being an excellent communicator is listening—truly listening–to your audience. This means taking the time to listen without interruption, ask follow-up questions, and zero in on the concerns of your team. Having a true conversation is much more effective than just droning on and on.
Keep your thinking hat on.
When you are going to present a message to your team, ensure you are confident in the subject matter. Write out your talking points ahead of time to help you stay on track. Carefully communicate one message at a time to avoid confusion when there are multiple messages to share.
Keep the individual top of mind.
Get to know your team and their communication styles so you can cater to their distinct needs. Each person will have a preference on how they receive and interpret communication. When you engage in one-on-one conversations, it is helpful to tailor your messages so each person has a solid understanding of what you are trying to say. Your team will appreciate this customization and attention to detail, which in turn will build trust.
Keep these basic tips in mind and you won’t get lost in the maze of communication. Start having a meaningful conversation with your team today!