When it comes to your career, communication is key. Your productivity levels, workplace relationships, and job satisfaction rely on your ability to influence and motivate others, express your values and goals clearly and give or receive feedback.

Boost your communication skills

Here are some tips that will help you to become a more effective communicator.

Empathic listening

Good communication isn’t just about expressing yourself clearly. It also means being a good listener. Here are a few tips for improving your listening skills:

  • Give the person talking your undivided attention. Try to get rid of anything that may distract you. If you find it difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating their words in your mind as they say them to help yourself stay focused. Try not to comment on, judge or trivialise what they're saying in your mind. Just listen
  • Allow the other person time to talk without interruption, listen with respect and empathy. Empathic listening means that you’re listening with the intent to understand, rather than simply waiting for your turn to talk
  • Watch for non-verbal communication. A person's tone of voice and how loudly or quietly they're talking can indicate other things that you should be aware of. They can, for instance, reveal how strongly someone feels about what they're saying, or give you clues about their personality or social/political inclinations. Also watch out for gestures and other physical means of communication such as facial expressions, all of which can be just as important as the words being spoken
  • Positive body language such as nodding, leaning in towards someone and maintaining eye contact signals that you’re paying close attention. Similarly, notice the body language of the person you’re talking to. Their nonverbal cues will allow you to observe the emotions behind their words - for instance, whether they're happy, satisfied, angry, resentful, frustrated or indifferent. Try not to judge or react to this non-verbal communication, simply recognise it
  • When it’s your turn to talk, take your time and think about what you're going to say beforehand. If necessary, tell the person you’re talking to that you're thinking about what they said. You may also want to make sure you've understood them correctly by asking questions and repeating what you think they've said before offering your reply
  • Be as positive and appreciative as possible when you respond. Remember, there's nothing to be gained in being negative, even if you don't agree with what they've been saying. Voice your own opinion openly and honestly, without criticising the other person's viewpoint, and there's a good chance they'll give you the same respect you gave to them when they were having their say

Effective questioning

Understanding the role of different types of questions means you can influence and get the most out of conversations.

Closed questions
e.g. Will you, Do you, Is that agreed?
These are useful in a conversation where you need to be assertive.

Open questions
e.g. When, Why, Which, How?
This style of questioning will help you encourage collaboration and participation.

Difficult conversations - A 5 step strategy

Nobody likes having a difficult conversation with someone, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Here are some steps you can take to make the best of the situation.

1. Take a deep breath: Separate action from reaction
2. Be open-minded: Acknowledge what has happened non-judgementally
3. Prepare to have the conversation: Consider any assumptions you might have, think about the message you want to get across and what the other person might consider important
4. Cooperate: Whether you’re apologising, confronting, discussing or giving feedback, a good starting point is what you both have in common e.g. We both want to get this done on time
5. Set objectives: Re-commit to future actions, behaviours or changes

For advice and support on improving your communication skills, book a session with one of our personal and professional coaches. Contact us today.

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