How often do you hear or say, “S/he just doesn’t communicate”? Or, “We have a communication problem in the department”? Communication – both written and spoken – is how the world revolves and we’re number one in that revolution. When we communication openly and fully – defining our wants and needs in simple and concrete language – we accomplish more, make more money, avoid misunderstandings – we hope – get jobs finished faster, and avoid myriad mistakes at home, in the community and at the office.
These Ten Tips will prove helpful when you’re talking to people on the phone, in a meeting, at your desk and over the counter.
1. Listen. Listening is the most powerful communication tool. Really listen. More often than not you’re waiting for your turn to talk and you’re not really listening. Active listening means to lean forward, acknowledging the person through body language – nodding and smiling – and repeating what you think you heard.
2. Ask open-ended questions. Instead of a question that requires a “yes” or “no,” ask, “How can I explain the process better?” “What questions still remain that need to be addressed before we leave?”
3. Be specific. Too often people speak in generalities that leave the message’s interpretation up in the air. Eliminate vague and general terms like “soon,” “later,” “always,” and “never.” Be specific: “In two hours,” or “by the end of the work day tomorrow,” or “on the 15th by noon.” “Always” or “never” are seldom just that. Instead of, “You always do x,” say, “I’ve noticed you have come in late the last three days in a row.” Instead of, “You never get y,” say, “I need for you to get me your projects in on time from now on.”
4. Use “I” twice as often as “you.” When you put yourself into the equation as to your interpretation, your intention, your understanding, and not the other person’s, then you take out their defensiveness. Instead of, “Your behavior needs to be improved.” (Whatever “improved” means. ) Say, “I recommend you brush up on your time management skills: Get your projects completed early in order to help your team and you.”
5. Speak up in meetings. People can’t read your mind. Show your team you have valuable input and are a valued participant.
6. Prioritize your time and projects. Chaos reigns in many offices: too few people doing too many tasks. When you prioritize your projects you are able to focus on your results. Get the most important task completed early in the day if possible; then cross it off your list. Go to the next important.
7. Say “no” when it’s appropriate. You’re working on a project that your boss says needs to be done by the end of the day. Someone in the department needs your help on his/her task. What do you do? You say “no” to that someone; tell them you have to complete one project by the end of the day, and when time permits or opens up, you will help. If not, recommend some options: another person, a temp agency, or a later completion time.
8. Be open to suggestions. When you get feedback that will help you the next time, be open to those comments. Most recommendations from others will bring you greater success in the future.
9. Let it go. You’re in a hurry, your team mates are in a hurry, your manager’s in hurry, someone’s in a bad mood or you’ve had a wretched day. When a slight comment comes your way, let it go. Most of us don’t intend to hurt people’s feelings. There will be times when you say something that is taken wrong: apologize and move on. If it happens to you, do the same. You live with your co-workers 40+ hours a week; you need them and they need you.
10. Stick to your values. Your value system is vital to your well-being. Stay true to yourself in every situation at work, home and in the community; Your self-confidence and your soul depend on it. The truth wins out. Be good to yourself: you matter.
Dee Dukehart runs Sandbox Communications, an international communications consulting business. She helps individuals, teams and companies improve their business strategies and bottom line with more powerful presentations, business writing and communication. To have her help your bottom line and you, contact: Dee@DeeDukehart.com * http://www.DeeDukehart.com * 303-753-1111
© Copyright 2012 Dee Dukehart * Dee@DeeDukehart.com * http://www.DeeDukehart.com