Are You an Effective Communicator?

January 5, 2016 by  

Many of us feel we are good communicators because we have had years of practice….been doing it since we were born! However, the truth is that most of us are not very good at it and as a result we experience much conflict, confusion, resentment, disappointment, complaining, even anger.  So how can we avoid those outcomes and enjoy more win/win outcomes, more of what we want along with higher productivity, efficiency and creativity?

Here are some great tips that will help to improve your communication skills.

  1. Practice Active Listening, the most important communication skill. The more you listen, get clarification that the message you sent was the one received and that the person not only heard what you said, but also processed the content as you wished and arrived at the expected outcome for that exchange, the happier both of you will be! This attentive, focused listening will result in less miscommunication and therefore better relationships in all aspects of your life. Try it not only at work but also at home.
  2. Try to understand with whom you are speaking…..are they a controlling type of person who has little patience for the anecdotal version of anything because they are very organized, competent and decisive. Are they a supportive sort of person who requires clear, specific directions, encouragement, support and reassurances that they are doing things as expected. Are they an analytical type of person who needs more time to gather sufficient data in order to make a decision or design an appropriate system or process as requested. Finally, are they a promoter type person who relishes attention, has loads of ideas but has trouble organizing themselves to actually get things done. No matter who they are, if you can determine their personality type you can then adapt your communication style to suit their perception of situations which will make your message easier for them to receive and interpret as you wish.
  3. It is important for all of us to become accountable for our actions and deeds as well as when dealing with others. There is no point in walking around with a stomach ache if you feel someone has offended or disrespected you in some way, they are not a mind reader, so you must let them know how you feel, but do it in an honest and respectful manner. If that does not work, next try to come up with a strategy to overcome this issue so that you no longer are feeling badly. Finally if that does not work either, you may have to leave the situation in order to save yourself.
  4. If we are going to deal with situations we often need to be assertive. There is a fine line between being aggressive and assertive….be sure to state your opinion in an honest and respectful manner and be prepared to have to do this more than once in order to get what you desire. In the end, you may not get exactly what you want, as we cannot make people do things they do not wish to do, however you will feel better for having spoken up and tried to “fix” the situation.
  5. We must realize that men and women do not communicate in the same way, therefore, again, we must adjust our communication style to suit whichever gender we are conversing with. Women are fond of the anecdotal version of the day or issue, men usually are not, they prefer the key points and will ask for more detail if they want it. Women often talk about feelings and generally are concerned more about process and inclusion, rather than the direct outcome. Men are more focused on the outcome and results. That does not mean that women do not like results, they do, but may reach them in less direct manner.
  6. Dealing with difficult people is bound to occur at some point so realizing that often they are behaving as they do as a result of some previous experience, it is not truly “about you”. The behavior is their way of maintain control, deflecting blame from themselves or avoiding making decisions. In order to deal effectively we need to try strategies that do not take away their power or make them more defensive. In the end, we may not win, but we can try leverage their strengths to both their and our advantage but listening well and being assertive as necessary.

If you can employ some of the tips offered above I expect you will enjoy more win/win outcomes, less miscommunication and ultimately more creativity, productivity and happiness. When we are happy we also enhance our immune systems, so as an extra bonus you will also be healthier!

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