Communication skills for successChen Wan Lim
Brian Tracy, a Canadian-American motivational public speaker and self-development author once said that “Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85% of your success in your business and in your life”. Effective communication is the essential building block for success in relationships, especially at the workplace. The ability to communicate effectively with bosses, peers, staff and clients is part skill, part science and part art. Having an acute ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas into action will land you the job you’re eyeing, win you the contract you’ve been tendering for and get all team members to subscribe to your vision. These are some steps to acquire good communication skills for success:
Listen first, talk later
Communication is often said to be a two-way street, where one party speaks while the other listens and vice versa. Practise active listening by concentrating and focusing on the message that is being communicated and responding with appropriate answers. Refrain from interrupting the person speaking halfway and allow the speaker to finish what they intend to speak. Next, do not reply instantaneously by saying the first thing that comes to mind. Carefully craft your replies in your mind, taking into consideration the topic of discussions and weighing the pros and cons of your reply. If you do not fully understand what was communicated earlier, ask clarifying questions and rephrasing what was mentioned to gain clarity. Active listening works on so many levels, including in the classroom and at the office.
Be sensitive to non-verbal cues
Body language often speaks volume of what is being communicated verbally. Look out for non-verbal cues in the form of hand movements, facial expressions and eye contacts. Often, especially in the Asian culture, not all disagreements, concerns and objections are verbalised. But they can be seen from one’s facial expression and demeanour in the office. Superiors and colleagues should take note of any changes in one’s physical behaviour and try to resolve any issues which might have been swept under the rug. Identifying a potential problem early will save everyone the hassle of firefighting later.
Proper choice of words
Let your ‘yes’ be a ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be a ‘no’. Refrain from using ambiguous words with blurry meanings. For example, instead of saying that the report will be submitted in the evening, try to commit to a time and say that the report will be submitted by 5pm. Proper choice of words will leave little room for misinterpretation and save time from having to reconfirm messages which were being communicated.
Proper choice of medium of communication
Proper use of communication channels is also important to ensure success. Telephone conversations are used for time sensitive communications while emails are used to ensure that proper paper trails are formed. Improper use of communication channels such as mobile messaging systems could sometimes be misconstrued to be informal and non-binding. Therefore, instructions from the top need to be carefully cascaded down to the operating level via proper channels to avoid untoward incidence.
Be sensitive towards others
Another important communication skill to master is the ability of being sensitive towards others. Knowing when someone is sad, angry, emotional or happy is important as you do not want to break bad news to someone who is already sad and you do not want to demotivate someone by bombarding them with unpleasant news all day. Being sensitive towards others allows for tactful conversations and proper dissemination of information.