Communicating - Introduction
Different people and organisations have different definitions of communication. One common thing mentioned in each definition of communication, is the passing on of or the exchange of information, feelings, facts, opinions (or anything within those lines) to another person or to more than one person(s). The ‘thing’ you are passing on to someone else is also known as information, so in simpler terms communication is the sharing of information to a person or persons.
Communication is very important as it is a universal language. If you have been through education, used a taxi, spoken to someone, then you have communicated. Now whether you have communicated effectively is a different story. Communication is not just through speaking. It can also be through writing, Body Language, Facial Expressions (such as nodding, eye contact to list a few) etc.
It is very important to adequately pass on information which means your purpose of the communication should be well understood so that the person(s) on the receiving end can receive what you are sharing.
To get the most out of Communication, it is important to realise that communication involves some sort of give and take. Give a listening ear and take away information and vice versa. There is as much power in listening if not more, than speaking. This guide is going to share ways in which you can develop your communication skills in order to get the most of it!
Effective Communication skills is what many great businesses adopt. These skills are vital when managing people as it helps increase productivity and longevity in working relations.. The openness to effective communication yields an atmosphere for employees/ workers to share ideas, encourage one another.This is because Employers or even employees who employ strong communication skills will build rapport with the employees/colleagues.
In the same breath, having bad communication skills (this can be due to background, upbring, personal issues) may lead to the person on the receiving end being demotivated, ill-informed, low self esteem to list a few.
Many breakdowns in relations, relationships, business’ etc, is because of the lack of communication and misunderstandings. Communication in the sense helps in removing understandings through clarifications of thoughts/opinions/emotions.
The great thing about communication is that you can always improve it! This can be through Technology, RolePlay, Practise, Reading Guides like this one and much more!
Communicating - Information
Since we have clarified that communication is the passing of information to a person or persons, it is useful to expand on information.
Information is usually not communicated effectively or received well because the other party may not understand.
In instances like this, ask yourself these questions or questions along these lines:
What you are trying to communicate?
What are you trying to achieve?
Would a layman understand this?
Could you make what you are saying clearer?
Do you need these many words?
The reason why these questions are important is because if you do not know chances are the other party won’t know either. If you are confused, chances are that the other party is confused too- see it as a mirror.
Also, Explore if the information is of value to them. Most information is inadequately received because the person cannot relate, it does not serve as value to them, there is nothing they can do with that information. So make sure to ask yourself if the information is of value to the person you are delivering it to. (This can be directly or indirectly).
Communicating - Various Technological Ways to Communicate
The most common way of communicating is through Human Interaction - You guessed right! Fortunately or Unfortunately ( guessing on the side you stand on) due to development in technology, we opt to communicate via technology rather than to have a normal communication with one another. However, when it comes to interviews and job hunting process, human interaction is needed.
Especially in the workforce, Emails is very popular. Communicating this way helps the business/ person in question keep track of the conversations and help keep people in the know through buttons such as cc or bcc. This may be more effective than repeating what you have said several times to several people who may not necessarily be around. This type of communication is useful in the sense that everyone gets the same amount of information. In a business environment, this is the most important due to the applications available from that such as calendars, Skype etc.
Direct messaging -
As useful as an email may be, direct messaging makes it easier for colleagues to have a fast conversation (similar to real life conversations) without having to wait for an email to return. Direct Messaging can be via social media, kype, google teams etc. Although similar, Direct Messaging , this is not quite the same as Human Interaction as emotions, facial expressions, tone of voice, body language cannot be captured through platforms as suc
Video Interaction is somewhat a mixture of it all. Video Communication is similar to Human Interaction as it is somewhat face to face this way tone of voice and facial expression can be captured unlike with Direct Message. It is similar to Direct Message in the sense that is fast paced and you do not have to wait for an email to arrive. It is useful for business and similar to emails as you can connect that way to teams overseas, not around etc.
Video Interaction is what many hiring companies use nowadays. It saves delegates money, saves them money (no need to hire/rent a room) and is a great way to show the candidates personality.
Can you think of any other Interactions?
Which Interaction to Use
Depending on the information, the urgency and the timings, you can find which Interaction is the most effective, you can even use them in conjunction with each other. For example having a meeting using human Interaction before following it up with an email as a reminder of the communication had.
Communicating - Prepare/Plan
Plan what you want to say. This does not mean you should sound like a robot, this simply means having a skeleton, a foundation. In other words, know what topic you are aiming to communicate. Having a clear, achievable goal for those conversations helps enhance the effectiveness of the communication. Just like a test (which communication should not haha) outlining what is needed helps you mention and think of important vital points and to know what is required on the assignment.
This makes it clear for not only you but also the person on the receiving end.Prepare and plan to ensure that the person you are communicating with is aware of what the communication is about, what is needed from the communication and why the communication is being had.
In instances where you need to communicate in a meeting, set an agenda and send to everyone, before meeting. This gives team members time to think and come up with ideas so that the meeting is not a waste of time and so that Information can flow from one another.
Many people believe they have planned once they clarify what they want. That is not good enough. You need to also set a process on how you will achieve it. For example You can tell yourself that your plan is that you want food and go up to someone telling them ‘ I want food.’ That is not as effective as telling them, ‘I am super hungry. I have not eaten all day, do you have any food with you?’
Communicating - Assessment
Who are you communicating to?
If you are trying to communicate to someone who is a lawyer about a legal career, but you speak to someone who does not like law, or understand law, or lacks interest in law? Chances are, they may not be able to receive your message.
Find out if the person you are speaking to is a logical, factual based, practical based person and you do this through CONNECTING. In other words, building a rapport with them, what are their likes and dislikes, are they more bubbly and outgoing or are they more serious and strict. Based on their personality type you will be able to communicate more effectively.
For example if you have assessed and know that someone is in a bad mood, you can try and give them some space before communicating. It is all about assessment.
As I said before, Communication is similar to a mirror. However, in this instance, try not to let their negative energy bring you down. They are responsible for their emotions as well as you are responsible for yours. Don’t let their negative emotions become YOUR responsibility.
Communicating - Connecting
Connect with the person you are communicating with - In other words build a rapport with them. This is very useful when attending a job interview, once there is a rapport, you will feel more trusting and more comfortable around them.
As human beings, as hard as it is to admit, we tend to judge other people. By judging them we already have a preconceived notion regarding them without getting to know them.
For example, we might see someone who looks rowdy so we assume they are always angry thus we avoid a conversation with them and they are the total opposite. Building a rapport and connecting with them strips away the judgement and gives us a neutral chance of getting to know them.
In order to connect with someone, we must be willing to put ourselves aside to understand them. With understanding comes connection and with connection comes easier and effective communication. On the other hand, if we are disconnected with someone chances are the information will not get through.
Try and know things about them, what do they like, dislike?
Now you don’t have to be best friends with them but try and gain an understanding of who they are. Finding common grounds is a great way to connect. If you can build trust and connection with the other party, chances are, they will be more respectful and open to a respectful and open conversation with you.
You can connect with someone though
Mutual Aim or Goal
Culture & Backgrounds
Communicating - Language
Body Language is a non verbal way of communicating. Through Body Language, people can pick up your emotions, issues, standpoint etc.
If you are speaking to someone and they turn their back to you, sitting slumped or they are even doodling on their notepad. This can be a sign of disengagement and all this can be picked up from their body language.
So when communicating with someone, think about your body language and ask yourself these questions or questions along these lines:
Do you seem closed off?
Do you appear uninterested?
Are you sighing and yawning a lot?
These things can be a barrier in receiving or sharing effective communication.
If you have an open body language, you will draw people closer to you - as they do not have to go through the struggle of breaking the barrier.
Things Like Eye contact, Posture etc reveals your comfortability and like a mirror, allows your communicatee to be comfortable also.
Here are some of the things you can do to convey positive body language:
Maintain Eye Contact
Use a Firm handshake
Do not touch your face/hair
Do not slouch, have an open posture
Communicating - Vocal Awareness
Many people believe that with the tone of voice you can predict someone's character. This is because it is not about the words you use but how you use your words, and not just that but how you say those words. Be careful on how you say things as it leaves an impression.
Did you know that Margaret Thatcher actually employed a vocal coach so that she can have a more authoritative and leadership type of voice? That is how important your vocal awareness is.
Based on who you are speaking to, you can adapt this. For example if you speak to politicians you would need a voice of authority whereas when speaking to a child you will need a more quirky lighthearted type of voice.
Am I calm, or passive aggressive?
Am I speaking at a suitable paced level?
Am I clear or muddling up my words?
Is my voice monotone?
Am I rambling on?
Try to be clear instead of rambling on and remember to breathe. The clearer you are the more people will be able to receive the information you are distributing.
The best way to practise this is to record yourself speaking and listening back on ways you can improve,watch some videos on Youtube or if you have the cash, you can always hire a vocal coach.
Communicating - Questioning
Questioning during communication is a great way to look at the engagement, open up the floor for ideas to flow and a great way to get feedback. Not only that, questioning is a great way to clarify any confusion, solving issues/misunderstandings and in some cases, gain new knowledge and understanding.
Let us take teachers as an example during their teaching or after their teaching, they ask questions. This helps them to gage to gaps in the students knowledge and gives them a chance to close that gap.
After communicating/sharing information, ask the other person questions. This allows them to feel involved and share their own creativity too. It shows that you are not just imposing your ideas on them, but you are interested in exploring their ideas too. This can be very useful in helping company development.
Communicating - Listening
Always Remember this…Listen to understand instead of listening to speak. That will help your communication go a long way. Many people already have a rebuttal before someone has made their point and usually the rebuttal usually doesn't link or make sense with the initial comment. Always Listen and try to understand. If you listen and you don't understand, ask Questions to clarify any confusion
In case you haven't understood, Communication consists of speaking and listening it is a dual mechanism. Also remember you are not having a monologue, it is a dialogue, meaning it is not just about you, you now have a communication partner. Listening allows us to demonstrate to the other party that we are paying attention to the information they are sharing .
Here are some things you can do to become a good listener:
Do not interrupt or change the subject or make everything about you.
If you are someone who gets distracted easily try and remove the distraction, e.g put your phone away, go to a quiet room etc.
Show you are listening through body language etc. the nodding and eye contact.
Ask probing questions - e.g ‘wow so how did you do it?’
Think before responding. You can even ask them to give you a minute to think.
Can you think of any other thing that you can do to be a good listener?
Communicating - Asking For Feedback
You cannot know how to improve if you cannot identify the areas that need improvement.
Feedback is a great way to communicate. It is even useful in developing another skill - self-awareness. Everybody is perfect and there is always room for improvement.
At the end or a speech or a meeting or anything that requires communication, ask the receivers of the information:
Was it okay?
Is there any way I could have relayed the message better?
Any constructive criticism
What can I do to improve?
Find out how you can improve because the aim of this process is to up your Communication game. Who better to give you feedback than those on the receiving end?
Communicating - Giving Feedback
Giving Feedback does not mean shaming the person. This is where most people go wrong and show signs of ineffective communication. As human beings, although we appreciate recognition in public things like public criticism is not appreciated. Find a place that is private to communicate this.
Many human beings use the word you and they said, or I heard. When giving Feedback give feedback from your point of view instead of other people. Avoid using terms like ‘I heard you did not come into work’ and deal with facts. The phrases you should use is ‘ I realised that you did not come to work all week, that is not part of work policy.’ Remember YOUR perspective not THEIR perspective.
Focus on one thing at a time. Bringing up various issues will cause divided focus which will cause one to not receive feedback fully. Many people use many issues at once because they think the more issues the more their point is solid. However this weakens the point as overlapping issues cause confusion and can be overwhelming for the receiver. It may be more useful to have several feedback sessions so it doesn't appear that you have saved up all the issues and now you are exploding. In other words if you are talking about performance, stick to performance. If you are talking about Job Description, stick to Job Description.
Feedback is not just all about pointing out the flaws. Giving Feedback can also be a way to Celebrate good word, positivity and to reward the receiver for their hard work and effort. Everything is about balance, it cannot all be negative. Congratulate them on what they have done well and highlight what they need to do to be better.
Communicating - Receiving Feedback
Funny enough, receiving goes hand in hand with listening. You cannot receive feedback if you do not listen to it. Again when you receive feedback and you are somewhat confused, make sure to clarify because you cannot improve you performance or situation if you do not know or understand what you need to improve.
As mentioned earlier, communication is a dual process. Not just give, but receive – take in. Once you have asked for feedback you have to be willing to accept their point of view and assess whether it is constructive criticism or not.
The willingness to accept constructive criticism will enhance your ability to communicate better.
Listen & Ask Questions
Be Respectful of your body language/ facial Expressions
Show Appreciation for them sharing
Making a decision whether its worth following
Communicating What not to do
Failure to Listen
Forget to breathe
Not being Concise
Shouting and being Aggressive
Blaming and intimidating others
Showing Negative Body Language
Speaking when someone else is speaking