As you’re no doubt aware by now, we will be holding our next People Matters HR Seminar* on 25th June 2019 at Bury FC. The theme for this talk will be communication, more specifically, How communication can help your business, with Will Kintish as our guest speaker.
To help get us in the right frame of mind, we thought we would spend some time looking at communication, and the impact it can have on relationships and businesses. We’ve already talked about what communication actually is and what the key barriers to communication can be. This week we thought we’d look at some of the communication skills we need to really be better at getting our message across (or, indeed, listening).
Pick up any CV and the chances are the write is going to list “communication skills” as one of their many attributes. Unfortunately, it’s the sort of thing that many people assume they do well – they speak, therefore they communicate. However, that is not always the case. In fact “communication skills” in and of itself is actually a very vague description – as there are numerous skills which bring about good communication. You may have some, or you may have none.
The question is, how many of our top 5 communication skills do you have? What do you need to work on?
You have one mouth and two ears for a reason – being a good listener is one of the most important steps when it comes to being a good communicator. If all you do is talk, how can you be sure that what you’re saying is relevant to another person? Without listening to their input, or concerns, aren’t you simply bulldozing ahead?
It is also worth noting there is a huge difference between listening, and active listening – where you are paying specific attention to what is being said. You should take the time to ask pertinent and clarifying questions, gather more information, or enhance your understanding.
Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it. Other times it’s not what you said, but what you didn’t say. Our body language, the level of eye contact we provide, the gestures we make, can all have a huge impact on the way what we say is perceived by others.
For example, asking “Did you complete that work I sent you?” with an open posture, a smile on your face and with eye contact will be perceived in a more positive manner than if you stood with your arms folded, tapping your foot and looking aggressive. The words are exactly the same, but everything else adds to the context – and perhaps a wrong impression of your intentions.
Whilst being aware of your own body language, it is also important to pay attention to other people’s. You can tell a lot about someone, by the way, their hold themselves. If someone isn’t making eye contact, for example, it could be that they are hiding something, or perhaps that they feel uncomfortable. It is worth exploring either of these options in more detail to enhance the quality of your communication.
Good communication says what needs to be said in as few words as possible. No doubt we all know someone who loves the sound of their own voice. Having lots to say may seem impressive to some, but droning on to the point where no one is listening, and therefore completely misses any points you might actually be making, is not the sign of a good communicator!
We all like to feel that we are being heard, and one of the easiest ways to demonstrate you are listening is to evidence empathy. Simple things like starting a sentence with the words, “I understand” can be a great way to assure the other person that you have heard what they have said, you have taken it on board, and you will do what you can about their concerns.
It may well be that there is nothing you can do; however, the other person will at least feel as though they have been listened to, which can avoid feelings of frustration and disillusionment.
Using the right medium
It is vital that when you are communicating with anyone you make sure you’re choosing the right method to convey your message. Someone you know who is very busy may not appreciate you turning up at their door announced, or phoning them. Instead, it might be better to send them a quick message.
If you have lots of information to provide someone, it may be best to do so via email, rather than a phone call. This allows them the opportunity to process the information, and take their time in responding, rather than feeling under pressure to provide a response immediately.
* Please remember that all People Matters clients are automatically offered a FREE place to this seminar, though you do still need to book your seat. Please get in touch if you have any questions on securing your space.