We often think of ‘communication’ as an intangible and ungovernable variable that is beyond our control. That is nonsense. Just as we can control numbers and satisfaction, so can we control communication. We must simply determine the rules and elements that lead to successful communication, and use them as tools to share information and manage interactions.
Here are 10 key ways to increase the amount and effectiveness of your communications:
- Describe the situation and your reactions. Avoid making assumptions about what the other person knows. Take the time to make sure the person you are speaking with knows what is going on and understands your perspective.
- Make no assumptions about another person’s thoughts or feelings. If you assume you know what’s going on inside another person’s head or heart, that may affect what information you share with them. You’re not a mind reader; don’t make assumptions.
- Keep judgments in check about a person’s character. If you consider a person to be worthless or lazy or stupid, you will limit your exposure to that person, potentially limiting their effectiveness on the job.
- Be specific in what you say. As you share information with others, avoid generalities. Don’t assume the other person knows or understands what you are talking about. Give concrete examples to demonstrate your point.
- Give information rather than advice. People feel patronized if you preach at them. They tend to stop listening and will refuse to give you feedback about themselves. Instead focus on factual information they can use.
- Keep in mind the receiver’s needs, not your own. Much of communication is really about the other person. Keep your focus on the other person: their feedback, and their comprehension.
- Check for understanding. Don’t simply ask, “Do you understand? “Ask an open question such as “What is your understanding of what we have agreed to?”
- Keep in mind how much the receiver can handle and use. Engaging in an information dump is not necessarily a good communication technique.
- Level with the receiver; don’t level the receiver. If you have to deliver unpleasant news, be factual and unemotional.
- Maintain your sense of humor. Be willing to laugh—especially at yourself! You can lighten a tense moment by interjecting a little humor, and strengthen personal connections by demonstrating the humility necessary to poke fun at yourself.
When communicating with others, you must recognize your part in the process. You are fully responsible for the success of your interactions with others. If you choose to assume, judge, patronize, overload, or overwhelm people, you are not only setting yourself up for failure, but your company as well. Be effective in your communication and engage your listeners by sharing appropriate and necessary amounts of information. These tips will help ensure a positive and successful conversation, and lessen the frequency of miscommunication.
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