The Secret to Improving Your Business Communication Skills
WORDS: Diana Smith PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied
Communication skills are a pivotal part of just about every business branch. A floor manager should voice their opinion just as clearly as a laboratory technician or floor worker. However, this is often easier said than done.
It’s no secret that communication channels and tools have drastically changed ever since the pandemic. Instead of face-to-face communication, online meetings and seminars have become the norm. The question thus poses itself – How do we improve our communication skills within this new normal?
While some communications skills will never go out of style, new ones have come bursting onto the scene. Luckily, this article takes a look at all of them below!
Conciseness – less is more
Just as this subheading entails – in communication, less is more. Take a weekly meeting as an example. During this conversation, each employee should concisely go over their weekly progress and keep themselves from making unnecessary digressions. The longer each brief takes, the less work is being completed.
With that said, clarity and conciseness are not skills that are picked up on the go. For a brief to be concise, it must be planned out ahead of time. Thus, before a meeting or discussion, it’s pivotal to go over the main points and understand why each should be mentioned. In addition, repeating an important point is not out of the question as long as it’s done sparingly and effectively.
Tone – not what you say but how you say it
A message is never interpreted without context. Each communication is accompanied by an abundance of factors, including the setting, the time, and most importantly – the delivery. In other words, the message you convey will often come second to the tone in which you convey it. Take a progress meeting as an example. While some employees may have performed better than others, the tone that a manager employs should be equally controlled.
However, similar to conciseness, controlling your tone is not learned overnight. It is learned through both speech therapy and experience. Each time you speak or address someone, you should be aware of your volume, projection, and intonation – all should be altered according to the situation.
Non-verbal communication – saying without speaking
People unconsciously use non-verbal communication throughout their day. Most of the time, these non-verbal cues will convey more information than any speech act ever could. During a meeting, a simple nod will signal agreement, while crossed arms will be a red light that something is off.
The secret of communication is knowing how to employ these non-verbal cues to work in your favor. Thus, when presenting a pitch before a client, your gestures and facial expressions should always agree with the message that you’re conveying. A confident pose and a clear voice will take you further than any PowerPoint ever could.
Listening – the other side of the coin
The focus of communication training may easily become associated solely with the role of the speaker. However, communication is a two-way street – as participants, we take on the role of both speaker and listener simultaneously. Thus, to hone our communication skills, it is not enough to just speak but learn how to listen as well.
A mindful listener is an active one. This role entails a couple of things. For one, an active listener will give non-verbal cues to signal that they are paying attention. They’ll also avoid interrupting the speaker no matter how tempting it may seem. Finally, the secret of an active listener is to enter the conversation without judgment – this will allow you to hear the arguments without automatically going on the defensive.
Emotional intelligence – the basis of communication
While all the above-mentioned skills are important, they mean little without emotional intelligence. In short, emotional intelligence entails being aware of and managing your emotions and behaviors according to the situation. Once aware of your emotional state, you will find it easier to communicate your desires, plans, and suggestions to others.
However, this is not the end of the road. Emotionally intelligent people are not aware only of themselves but of others as well. True leaders will thus empathize with their employees, making tough conversations that much easier.
As mentioned, communication is never a one-way street. To be successful in any aspect of life, you must listen as much as if not more than you speak. Once you can hear and understand others, you will be capable of communicating your own needs and thus shooting for success!