Being a strong communicator is helpful in many parts of life. But how well you communicate at work might determine how successful you are. That’s why we’re going to share our top tips on how to be a better communicator. Whether you’re aiming for career advancement, wanting to be a better collaborator, or simply wanting to be better understood, our tips will help.
Why Workplace Communication is so Important
Effective communication is the cornerstone of a thriving organization. But it doesn’t just rely on top-down communication from leadership. It relies on how well individuals communicate with one another—especially those in managerial positions.
But why is communication so vital? Let’s talk about a few key reasons.
- Increased clarity and understanding. This one kind of goes without saying, right? When we communicate well, it’s more likely that our audience or team are going to understand us clearly. This saves time and reduces the chance of errors or mistakes when we collaborate.
- Problem solving. When employee communication is clear, everyone understands the challenges and our common goals. This can lead to stronger innovation and faster problem-solving.
- Better conflict resolution. When we, as individuals, can communicate more effectively, we’re more able to resolve conflict with our colleagues without needing to escalate issues to HR. Not to mention, good communication can prevent conflicts from happening in the first place.
- Customer satisfaction. If you’re in a frontline role, dealing with customers, communication skills are critical to providing a great customer experience.
What Makes Someone a Strong Communicator?
There are many qualities that make someone a good communicator. But at its heart, communication is all about forming connections with others and being able to convey ideas clearly. If you can’t be relatable, open, and willing to listen, you won’t connect with your audience. At the end of the day, remember that one-way dialogue isn’t really communication. Communication is a conversation.
That said, communication skills can be worked on. Here are a few of the key components:
- Active listening.
- Body Language.
How to Be a Better Communicator
Are you ready to elevate your communication skills? Try these six tips.
1. Get Feedback
If you really want to improve your communication skills, a great place to start is to ask for feedback. Whether it’s a mentor or members of your team, consult with someone who you communicate with often. Or people who have seen you present, lead meetings, etc.
Instead of just asking for very general feedback, like “do you think i’m a good communicator?”, ask specific questions instead. Typically, people don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so they might not divulge useful advice. But asking specific questions will help you dive deeper and get actionable feedback.
Consider asking them questions like this:
- Are there any ways I could be more clear or concise when I communicate?
- Do you feel heard when we have conversations?
- Are there specific presentation skills I could focus on (like eye contact, volume, or pace)?
And then don’t forget to circle back! Take their feedback and work on it. And then go back to them to see if you’ve made improvements. This not only helps you get a baseline for if you’re getting better, but it also shows people that you really care about their honest feedback.
2. Focus on Active Listening
You hear people talk about active listening a lot. But how do we actually focus on this?
Harvard Business Review breaks down active listening into three components: cognitive, emotional, and behavioral. Cognitive is the actual comprehension of what’s literally said and implied when someone speaks. Emotional is how you respond emotionally to hearing what someone has to say. And behavioral is how you give verbal and nonverbal cues that you are interested and paying attention.
To improve your listening skills, they have a few ideas:
- Repeat what you’ve heard. HBR says to repeat the last few words back, but we think it’s more important to repeat the most important parts of what someone has said for understanding.
- Give nonverbal cues that you’re listening. Whether it’s nodding or maintaining good eye contact, there are many ways you can show you’re listening. So, put your phone down, turn away from your computer, and be present.
- Ask questions. One of the best ways to show you’re listening is to ask questions. Not only will this truly help you understand better, but it shows the other party that you care about what they’re saying and aren’t just trying to get out of the conversation.
If you have to give presentations at work, you’re probably used to practicing. But do you practice other conversations?
Just like you prepare for a job interview, it can be a good exercise to practice what you’re going to say for difficult or complicated conversations. And we recommend practicing out loud like an actual rehearsal.
Now, the one thing to be mindful of is sounding rehearsed when the time comes. We aren’t recommending you write and memorize a script. Instead, focus on the main points you want to make and ensure that you make them in a concise and clear way. Keep practicing, saying things in a variety of ways, until you feel really comfortable with what you need to convey.
This can not only make you appear more confident, but you are probably also more prepared to be present to listen to the other party more rather than on what you need to say next.
4. Watch Yourself
Now, this tip can be a bit awkward, but it’s a good one. Especially if you are working on presentation skills, watching yourself speak can be a great way to self-coach.
So often, we are so focused on what we need to say (or not getting stage fright) that we might lose track of our nonverbals.
There are a few ways to watch yourself. The first is to just talk to yourself in the mirror. This is a great way to watch your expression and it mimics having to make eye contact with your audience.
But even more valuable is to just record yourself practicing your presentation or the difficult conversation you need to have. Recording yourself helps you really listen for tone, watch your body language, and see if you take enough pauses or ramble on. Without having someone to give you feedback, this can be a somewhat cringey way to learn where you need to improve.
5. Slow Down
When you know your facts inside and out, but your audience doesn’t, your delivery might be way too fast. And if you’re like me, someone who is naturally a fast talker, it’s even more important to slow down when you speak.
Not only does this give other people a chance to really listen and comprehend what you’re saying, but it also helps you cut down on some of your filler words, lets you watch and respond to your audience’s cues, and allows you to really consider what you’re saying.
6. Match Communication Styles
The truth is, everyone has a slightly different communication style. Some people want a rapid fire, back and forth dialogue. Others prefer to listen, contemplate, and then respond.
So, one of the best ways to be more adaptable and relatable is to practice meeting people where they are. Matching your communication styles can really help others feel comfortable and heard.
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