How To Be An Awesome Communicator
“Communication is a great thing … WHEN it happens…”
Whether you’ve heard this saying or not, it underscores what most everyone knows about communication – it is vital to the success of any organization.
And while communication is an acknowledged linchpin to the culture of high-performing organizations, it still is a widely underused skill to many. Great communication is not easy to master, but given solid foundational principles anyone can become proficient in boosting the flow of information in their sphere of influence.
So how can virtually anyone increase their communication effectiveness? Here are some effective ways to get a solid handle on the basics:
- Understand what communication is. As the legal “meeting of the minds” phrase indicates, it’s sharing ideas and information in a mutually understandable way. Knowing this will help you seek the common ground for understanding.
- Be open and honest. One objective of communication is to gain and build trust. This can’t be done with anything short of total honesty and openness. When people can trust your words, they can trust what you represent.
- Be a funnel. Company reports, leadership books, industry articles, and even the company mission statement and values are great only if they are shared. Funnel what’s important for your team’s growth and motivation from trusted, pertinent sources.
- Take time to read. Memos, emails, and reports can only be accurately conveyed if you have carefully read and understood the content. Many times communication breakdowns are the direct result of an email not read, or read carelessly. To send the correct message, you must read the message correctly.
- Adopt speech that drives culture. Communicate culture. Culture can’t move forward if what you convey indicates a different direction. If you truly adopt your organization’s culture, your message will align itself in what you say. In any organization you represent, your adoption of their brand is reflected in your conduct.
- Promote values and vision. Marketing 101 teaches that promoting gets people talking about a message. If you pepper your interactions with the company values and vision, you go a long way into propelling that message forward, and getting others to communicate the same.
- Don’t hide anything. Secret meetings, unknown job openings, and closed door deals will prevent people from trusting in the organization. This will lead to staff hiding their true feelings, concerns, and intentions to leave. Keep an open door on everything.
- Be honest if you can’t give all the details. There are times when some items just can’t be discussed, mostly due to timeliness. If that is the case, say so. Let your people know what you can tell them, but if you cannot let them know the specifics say that clearly.
- Don’t lie, or fill in the blanks. Say “I don’t know” when you don’t have all the information. Be truthful.
- Say it upfront, not behind backs. If there is an issue with someone, the best audience is always that someone. Not others. Gossip is a toxin that destroys organizations.
- Speak to edify and improve things. Any discussion, even ones about under-performance, should be steered towards edification and bringing out the best in people.
- Take self out of the equation. Emotions can taint any conversation, especially when they’re yours. Factor out anything that slants a discussion towards your own desired outcome.
- Use emotions in their proper context. On the other hand, use positive and negative emotions in a way to drive home points where needed. “I’m disappointed” or “concerned” work better than profanity. “I’m excited” or “we’re pumped up” can motivate when genuine and edifying.
- Be genuine. If stating your opinion, say so. If trying to generate ideas and stimulate innovation, make it clear and ask for the thoughts of others.
- Be objective. Seek facts. Communicate facts. If you don’t know a certain fact, don’t surmise. Investigate, but deal only with the known variables.
- Ask questions. Clarify. Get input. When you don’t know, ask. Seek to clarify. Many times it opens up dialogue, whereby false accusations close it down.
- Communicate to connect. All communication should seek to enhance relationships and build stronger and more connected teams. Make those connections a central tenet in every communication.
- Give and get feedback. Virtually every employee wants relevant feedback and are willing to give the same. Being ready to give and ask for constructive input builds the team and sharpens everyone’s weaker skills.
- Speak with respect. The old adage of if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all, is good counsel. You can be respectful even with differing viewpoints. Allow people of dissenting views to feel valued and acknowledge their viewpoint even if you don’t agree.
- Communication extends to email, texts, social media, and any touch-point you make. Know that every means of communicating is a way to enhance this culture or take away from these points. Be cognizant of how you’re communicating, what the medium is, and who it’s impacting. A well-rounded communicator fires on all input cylinders to be effective in every point of contact.
Look to these and other ways to become an awesome communicator. Open the dialogue in your organization and build a strong culture around this important skill.
Have any other communication strategies? Let us know below!