The 21st century seems one poised to be the communication century, where the old ways fall by the way side, as true communication goes further and further toward building bridges between people, and greases the skids in the business world between coworkers, clients and managers in ways that would seem impossible even a generation ago. Don’t be left behind. Here are 10 effective ways to build your interpersonal communication skills and stay ahead of the game.
Conduct the Difficult Conversation
Shying away from necessary conflict for the sake of avoiding confrontation is a big hindrance to forging meaningful communication. Through practice you will learn the best ways to conduct the difficult conversations that need to be done.
Brevity is Better
A good and proper economy of phrasing goes a long way toward earning good will from those you wish to communicate with.
Get to the points you wish to make quickly, do not waste others’ time and mental energy on pointless “filler” conversation, and people will appreciate you.
Make Your Feedback Count
Often, the most important communication skill is learning to make the most of the small windows offered for you to give constructive feedback on something. Make the most of these opportunities.
Receive Feedback Gracefully
Likewise, a crucial skill to effective interpersonal communication is learning how to take criticism and feedback in stride, and to never take it personally. Feedback is a great way to learn what you need to focus on to perform better. Cherish the opportunity.
Mind Your Hygiene
One of the first things people notice about you is your hygiene habits.
Bathe regularly, keep a neat and tidy appearance, and mind all aspects of your personal grooming habits. It makes no sense to allow something so easy to control to derail your attempts at communication.
Dress for Success
Also, dress properly for every occasion. There is no excuse to ever be “under dressed” as it will only allow other the excuse to not take you seriously.
Learn to Self-Assess
An honest self-critique can be the most useful ability in building interpersonal communication skills that you have at your disposal. Learn how to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.
Listen With Your Eyes
Look for the numerous non-verbal cues that will clue you in to what the other person is trying to convey to you in conversation. Pick up on the eye contact, the posture and the body language to hear the hidden conversation at play in every interaction.
Do Your Prep Work
Always be prepared for any conversation, but never fear not having a particular fact handy. It is much better to admit ignorance than to make something up.
Silence Can Sometimes Be Golden
Learning when not to speak in a conversation can be a incredibly useful skill that allows the other person room to say what they need to. Challenge yourself to be silent the next time you feel urged to argue and you’ll instantly build more effective communication skills.
A manager who coaches others needs to provide feedback that keeps them focused and on track. Feedback is also a critical element for working out relationships with coworkers, friends and family members. Unfortunately, “feedback” can become a euphemism for not very constructive criticism.
Feedback can and should be a way of helping another person become more effective. You can help others increase their effectiveness by helping them to understand both what you observed about their actions, and how those actions affected you.
Feedback, at its best, involves sharing both facts and feelings in a way that supports someone who is willing to accept your information.
Use these tips to improve the quality of the feedback you offer others:
1. Give feedback when it is solicited, rather than imposing it on an unwilling listener. If you must offer unsolicited feedback, first say that you would like to give some feedback and ask if this is a good time to do so. If now does not work, schedule it for a later time.
2. Provide well-timed feedback — usually at the earliest possible moment after the given behavior. Feedback given long after there is any opportunity to correct a problem will usually sound like criticism. However, you may still have to wait until the recipient is ready to hear what you have to say.
3. Give descriptive rather than evaluative feedback. Report on the facts or behaviors you observed, and the impact of those behaviors. Avoid pejorative words like dumb, crazy or stupid.
4. Be specific rather than general. “I observed this twice,” is more specific than “You always…”
5. Check to be sure the receiver understood your communication. A good way to do this is to ask them to tell you what they heard you say.
6. Offer feedback that is useful to the recipient. Think about their level of understanding, and ability to use the information. It is useless to give a novice complex, sophisticated details that she doesn’t understand. On the other hand, it may be considered insulting to call someone’s attention to a problem of which she is already aware.
If you want the recipient of your feedback to change their behavior as a result of you conversation, do not assume that giving the feedback is enough. Ask specifically for the change you want. For example, “Next time, please call me as soon as you know that the schedule needs to be adjusted. O.K.?”
Others will be more willing to give you the feedback you need to increase your own effectiveness if you demonstrate your willingness to receive it.
1. Ask others for their thoughts and feelings.
2. Actively listen to what is said. Paraphrase what you hear and ask if you are correct. Ask questions only for clarification.
3. Accept what you hear and avoid trying to explain or defend your actions.
4. Let others know how you use their feedback.
Remember, effective feedback gives you the information you need to keep learning and growing.
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Communicate skillfully about sensitive subjects in business situations. Have the challenging conversations that lead to cooperation and success. www.DareToSayIt.com/blog
Laurie Weiss, Ph.D. is a Master Certified Coach and communication expert. Dr. Weiss has spent 35 years helping clients resolve conflict in business and personal relationships. Email firstname.lastname@example.org