Improve Your Communication Skills!

By Siew Ching

5 must-do tips to ace it.

We’re going to put it out there – effective communication is the key to thriving at the workplace. Which is why when you look at job listings, most if not all list this skill as an important requirement! Also, noticed how all successful people have this in common: They are great communicators with the astounding ability to communicate effectively.

Want to work your way to the top? Hone this skill, we say! Nothing like being able to convey your ideas clearly and convincingly to get the big bosses to notice you and the client to look forward to working with you. Also, being able to communicate clearly means you can convince others to work with you better to produce great results. Which all sounds like a solid plan to work your way up the ladder!

Here are five tips you need to master if you want to, well, master your communication skills.

#1 Listen first!
Communicating doesn’t mean just talk. It involves listening too. It’s a two-way street, and if you are able to do both talking and listening perfectly, then you’re on the right track. People want to know that they are being heard and that their ideas or concerns mean something. So really listen to what the other person is saying instead of just waiting for a pause so you can interject with your response. Pay attention to what’s important to the person talking – which means no reading an email or text message at the same time. You want to give the other party your undivided attention and when you do, you’ll have a better chance of having someone on your side.

#2 Pay attention to who your audience is
Sure, you can use things like LOL or hey if you are talking to a friend or even a colleague you’ve worked closely with on many projects. But when it comes to your boss or a client, this casual and informal speak is a no go. Effective communicators target their message or the way they communicate based on who they are speaking to, which means they are keeping the other person in mind. When you consciously do this, you are more likely to choose words or phrases that are more effective. The way you present your message will also be more in tune with your audience. This will likely get you more attention instead of frowns if you stick to casual speak at an important business meeting.

#3 Be brief but specific
Ever had those emails that just go on and on and on, and you can’t get the gist of it? That’s exactly what you want to avoid – written or verbal communication. You don’t want to lose your audience’s focus midway through speaking or writing so practise to be succinct yet impactful. Or at the very least, be brief but get to the point. Don’t ramble; it can get annoying especially if the person you are speaking to has more urgent matters to attend to. If you are writing an email or a report, go back and read it all over again. You’ll likely find that you can cut out half of what you’ve written – which is a great practice to be better at being brief in your communication!

#4 Be mindful of your body language
You say one thing but your body languages say the other. Guess which one the person you’re speaking to is more likely to pick up on? Yups, your body language. This is because according to research, nonverbal cues like your facial expressions, gestures and body language can have between 65 and 93 percent more impact than the spoken word. Say you are nodding to agree with something your boss says but you are doing this while crossing your arms. Your boss knows you aren’t happy with what he’s saying. Watch your body language at all times. Also, learning how to read someone else’s body language can help you adjust your communication appropriately!

#5 Watch your tone
When speaking, your tone matters. You are curt when you are upset, and you are more yourself when you are not. So how you project that tone when speaking is very important as you don’t want to offend anyone, even if you’re not happy with whatever is being discussed. At the workplace, it’s best to adopt a moderate tone – don’t be too casual because it may appear like you don’t really care but if you’re too serious, people may get a negative connotation that can quickly lead to misunderstanding.

What about when it comes to writing? Your tone can be easily misread… or you may not even realise that you’re actually showing your true tone in words. The best thing to do is to read your communication once or twice out loud. If it sounds hasty, it most probably is.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash.

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