Here’s a crazy statistic for you: 86% of collaborators, leaders, and educators blame poor communication for workplace failures. So, you can say that communication is pretty important!
Communication is something that we do every day, but most of us still have a lot of work to do to become excellent communicators. This essential skill makes a significant impact on our work and workplaces. Luckily, there are ways to improve your communication skills and keep getting better.
Here are three areas to focus on to improve communication skills in the workplace.
Brevity and Clarity
It’s easier to speak for 10 minutes than it is for two—why? Because if you only have two minutes to speak, you need to identify exactly the right content that will be impactful and cut out all the other fluff. And, if you are higher up in your career, you have less time to speak and communicate. Brevity, then, becomes an important communication skill to learn.
Brevity means learning how to land the plane—i.e., get to the point! To do this, practice being clear and straightforward in what you’re saying. Here are five questions to ask that help you gain clarity in order to be brief in your speech:
- What is the purpose of this presentation or talk I’m giving?
- What points do I need to cover?
- Who’s going to listen to this—who’s my audience?
- How much time do I have?
- What questions can I anticipate?
As you think through these questions, you can identify exactly what is important to say and cut everything else out! Brevity and clarity are essential communication skills in the workplace and something to be mindful of today.
Part of communication is speaking, but the other part is listening. Sometimes we are too focused on what to say and how to say it and forget about the second half of communication! Listening requires just as much time and effort as speaking.
As obvious as they may seem, there are some important strategies to become a better listener:
- Don’t interrupt while someone is speaking.
- Go in with objectivity and an open mind.
- Be aware of your own emotional triggers.
- Engage with what the listener is saying and make it clear you’re listening.
If we gave more time to listening, our communication would soar! Just think about how many miscommunications could be avoided if we slowed down to truly listen to someone else.
Engaging with people is not just about verbal communication—our bodies also speak a language! Communication is a total-body experience. Here are two areas that you can focus on to ensure that you are communicating well through your body language.
- Smile and make eye contact to show yourself as open and approachable.
- Use gestures to be more engaging. Gestures also help the speaker remember their points better!
Your body language speaks volumes to the people you are communicating with. Make sure you are projecting confidence and competence so that you can better get your point across.
Communication is something we do every day. But effective communication is often lacking in the workplace. If you want to level up your communication skills as a leader, focus in on these three areas: brevity and clarity, receiving information, and body language. When you mindfully and intentionally seek to improve your communication skills, you will start to see the positive impacts on your workplace and work relationships.