Communication is the bread and butter of every business. Whether it is simply communicating with your customers on your website, or talking face-to-face meetings - how you communicate matters.
It might not surprise you too much to know that communication is one of the most desirable skills. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers covet it more than any other skill.
Improving Communication Skill
There are several smaller ways that you can improve your communication skills, these are easy to do and often simply take some time and recognition to do them.
Take your time - part of effective communication is to take your time and respond with care. Most of us listen to someone, simply to jump in and respond. If you really listen, process, and then a response, it gives us a chance to consider what the real response should be.
Priority - To be an effective communicator, you need to understand how much more to communicate there is than just words. More on this later. There is a lot to learn.
Clarity - Say what you mean, always. Just because you feel you got the nuance and the implications correct in what you said, doesn’t mean that you have gotten your point across. If someone hasn’t understood you, the natural reaction is to be annoyed that they didn’t. But, more often than not, it is because we have failed to communicate well.
Simplification - say it in fewer words. Unless what you are saying requires specific words, strip it back. Fewer, rather than ‘ there are less than.’ Several, rather than ‘there are many.’ Bigger words, while they sound great, can make things simply too long.
Body Language - Over half of our communication is non-verbal. Visual signals will come from your listener about how engaged they are in the conversation. You should always be aware of your own body language too. People will often mimic when they are interested, and you’ll not arms cross when people are closed.
Eye Contact - Eye contact builds trust. Make sure that you are keeping eye contact. This also applies when you are listening.
Listening Skills - Top-notch communicators are top-notch listeners. They don’t get distracted by what they want to say, or what you might say next. They just listen, absorb, and form responses.
Respect - If you enter a room, assuming you are better than everyone because you know XYZ, your tone and body language will tell them that. Instead, understand that you should care about the people in the room. You can’t be sure of their perspectives or needs - until you have started to have those conversations. Paying attention is one of the most simple ways to display respect.
“Communication works for those who work at it.” - John Powell
Books To Improve Your Communication
To improve something, we need to work on it. This could be through formal learning in a classroom or online setting, or it might be a self-taught thing.
There is such a wide range of books that cover everything from personality types to being more likable. We all have a style too, sometimes topics just resonate with us, better than others. Dedication to your communication will help guide you to what makes the most sense.
Here are some books that can help elevate your communication.
How To Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People
One of the key issues for many people is they lack the confidence to have the conversations they need. This has been a bestseller for many years and can help you find the confidence to use your voice.
Bringing Out The Best In People
When you see such potential but don’t know how to unlock it, it can be very frustrating. However, once you know how to speak to someone, you can work out how to unlock their potential and thrive. This is a mix of communication techniques and psychology. Teaching you how to communicate with anyone.
Power Questions - Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others
Sometimes it can be about asking the right questions, and then just listening. Listening is the key part. This book has a list of 200 questions that can help you start having conversations that make an impact.
On Speaking Well
If you often find you give talks, speeches, or just want to speak exceptionally well. This book delivers what is said on the cover. Style, Substance, Clarity.
Personality Types Play A Role
Our personalities will dictate how we receive and process information. As well as our reaction to what we hear. There are many different personality theories, and one of the most common is the Myers-Briggs. If you haven’t found out which four-letter personality type you are, you can find Myers-Briggs tests online.
The personality types are made up of the following:
Introversion or Extraversion (I or E)
Sensing or Intuition (S or N)
Thinking or Feeling (T or F)
Judging or Perceiving (J or P)
Your personality type will be a combination of the letters. For example, you might be an ISFJ or an ENTJ. This will dictate how you communicate with people and how they communicate with you. And while it might be impossible to have your whole office take a personality test to help (although this is a great idea), you can feel for what communication type will be best for people in these categories. Some will prefer sharp-shooting, others like time to process and respond.
If you don’t like that method, then there is a great book called Surrounded By Ideas, who can give you some indicators of personalities and how you can effectively communicate better with them. They are color-coded, and the book makes it simple to understand how you can improve your interactions.
How To Communicate Effectively Over Video Call
The huge surge in remote working dictates that this needs to play a critical role in how you communicate now and in the future. Video conferencing software has been so heavily relied on for most of 2020, and this will likely continue.
Many people found that they were feeling fatigued from all of the calls. Being overly expressive, talking louder, listening more intently. Video conferencing does allow for a better means of communication than constant emails, but you can most likely do it better.
To get the most out of your working relationships, video conferencing skills are something that does need to be worked on. It’s isn’t always the most natural feeling to be speaking via a microphone. There is added pressure to rely on other people's internet too.
To communicate in the best way on video conference calls here are some guidelines:
If you know the topic of the meeting, make a note of questions you have, if you are leading the conversation make a note on the point
Take into account the different time zones you may be dealing with, accommodating as many people as possible
Keep your phone away during the call - block out the time and dedicate it
Learn all of the features of your chosen video conferencing software
Don’t interrupt or jump in. If there is something that doesn’t add up, make notes, and question it after they have finished.
Choose the right room in your home to have the call. Somewhere cool and quiet.
Test your microphone in advance
Choose your attire with care so that you are comfortable and not distracted by loose threads, buttons, and more.
There are some occasions where you should ask for a different type of communication, if possible. If your internet connection isn’t strong, if there is no guidance to the topic, but a meeting is booked - these can be better taken over the phone. If there are more than 5-10 people, it can become a complicated process. These factors will impact your call quality and how well you can communicate.
Communication is the key to closing a deal. Some people make decisions quickly, others need time and more information. It will become second nature for you to begin to distinguish between these characters in your selling process.
The same will go for your teammates too. Learning who has particular strengths and how you can make the most of them will see many interesting changes and different people thrive.
Cultivating healthy relationships is just as important in work as it is in everyday life. Once you learn how you best communicate and how active listening can revolutionize how you interact with people, your conversations will have a better outcome. Being clear in what you are saying and how you are saying it will benefit you for life. Invest in books, invest your time, and learn about those who are around you.
You will find that communication, the psychology about it, and how powerful it can be will leave you questioning why it isn’t taught on a fundamental level. Communication often becomes a passion when you embark on a journey of knowledge to improve your own communication and work better with those around you.
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” - Ernest Hemingway