Communication skills are the foundation of great business performance. All relationships are built through a clear understanding of each other.

And it’s for you, at the top of the information chain, to take full accountability for the way information is expressed. And to be the model for your people.

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”

Ernest Hemingway

Top Ten Things About Communication

Communication is the basis of who you are as a manager/leader in business. The rules are simple and the good news is that you can learn them and develop your skills…and it’s quite easy!

Here’s the low-down on great Communication:-

The best communicators…

  1. Keep It Simple
    Great Communication is about making what you say very easy to understand. Just realise that important messages get across better without loads of technical jargon or 4 (or more!) syllable words. Less is definitely more. (Yea, I know I don’t always walk my talk :-())
  2. Know Their Audience
    It is important to understand that there are different levels of message for different groups of people. This is not demeaning those different groups – indeed, it honours them that you have taken the time to think of them. Be aware of who you are talking to and pitch the message accordingly.
  3. Listen Well
    The best Communication is as much about listening, as what you say. It’s the ‘two ears/one mouth’ thing – keep how you use them in proportion. People love it when you listen to them and you will learn much more about them and their situation. Check out Dale Carnegie’s fantastic little book at the bottom of the page.
  4. Pay Attention
    It is important that when you are in dialogue with someone, be it on the phone, face-to-face or in a group, that you give them your full attention. If you go off-message because of interruption or distraction you will lose them and your credibility.
  5. Honour The Audience
    All inputs from others is valuable, very valuable. So ensuring that when folks have taken the time, effort and, yes, courage to speak up, that you treat them with respect and gratitude.
  6. Realise Their Responsibility
    Getting the message across is the responsibility of the person giving the message. It is no good saying, ‘Well, I meant that…’. You need to sharpen your Communication skills up, if things go wrong and look inside yourself at the possibly mixed messages you are giving and refine them in the future. Learning is good!
  7. Follow Up
    By writing up important messages and circulating them, just to confirm. It’s a bit of a chore, but it makes sure that things are really clear – especially great for those who are less auditory and more visual.
  8. Are Heard
    You speak with authority and in an easy to understand language – and you captivate. People leave you thinking – ‘hey, I can go for that’ and ‘what a nice guy (or gal!)’ Great communicators have this innate skill.
  9. Build Rapport Easily
    It’s like an old friend pops by for a chat. The best communicators truly have a charismatic skill which enables them to settle in very, very easily. Hard to learn, but very noticeable.
  10. Check Understanding Frequently
    ‘What did you take from that message?’ or ‘Was what I said clear?’. Two simple yet key questions which activate that feedback loop. Never assume that your message is the one that everyone has received – it’s worth checking out.

Ten Ways to be Better at Communication

  1. Make Time
    Set time in your day to get out there and speak to and listen to your people.
  2. Use Uncomplicated Language
    It’s easy to be smart and show off your education, technical knowledge or just your seniority. But it fails to impress – and behind your back there will just be confusion. So use words (see, I nearly use a longer word there myself!) that people understand. It will make you the more impressive.
  3. Use Your Body
    Communication is about the whole person. So match up! It’s about body posture, eye contact, tone and volume of voice and even touch. Making the effort to behave just like them is a perfect way to build rapport and communicate the message much more effectively.
  4. Pay Attention
    When you are in conversation with people, pay close attention to them – especially when they are speaking. Turn off your pager or cell phone, make sure that no-one else interrupts you. Pay the due respect to the person who is giving their time to you.
  5. Vary Your Style
    By matching the person you are talking to, you will build relationships far quicker. So take a slow pace or a bubbly one with people like that. Moreso, with groups who need different approaches, try to pitch to the majority and follow up with different techniques to meet the needs of others.
  6. Be Sensitive
    When you go about your day, keep focused on what you are hearing or seeing. Many times you can sense the energy, or not, of people, if you acknowledge what you body is telling you. Then find out more – ask open questions (what, how, where, when, who). The faster you get to the bottom of difficulties, the quicker you can resolve them. So use your senses!
  7. Use ‘Do Not Disturb’
    If you have an office, make sure that when you are talking to others one-to-one, you aren’t disturbed. Meetings with the ‘boss’ are often challenging and scary for people – give them your uninterrupted time – they are worth it.
  8. Use Humour Where Appropriate
    When the time is right, share a joke, have fun with your people. It truly opens more doors in business relationships than anything else. It also moves the ‘management’ to a place where they are much more like real human beings (well, for most of us!).
  9. Be Natural
    By avoiding acting a part, you will benefit from one of the most important tools in the box. Your authenticity is very important both for your own wellbeing and for the trust and rapport of your people. Acting naturally will enhance your relationships.
  10. Get Prepared
    Whenever you have to give information, to individuals or groups of people, it is vital that you are well-prepared and natural. You can be natural when you are confident in your preparation.

5 Simple Actions You Can Take Today!

  • In conversation with others, listen hard and ask more about what they say to you (use some good open questions – what, how, where, when, who).
  • Check the understanding of others you have given a message to – you’d be surprised how often they heard differently to what you thought.
  • Say ‘good morning’ and ‘goodnight’ to everyone.
  • Make sure, in one-to-one’s with people, that nothing disturbs you and if it does apologise.
  • If you write anything, or e-mail it, write naturally and then take half of what you’ve written away – the message will be stronger.

Read some great books – like:-

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” – Dale Carnegie
“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”– Stephen Covey
“How to Talk to Anyone” – Leil Lowndes