One’s ability to communicate effectively is the difference between being average and being fabulous. You see, people who are great communicators have better relationships with everyone—their boss, colleagues, spouses, and friends.
The good news is that improving communication is a skill that can quickly be developed and improved. Here are five tips that, if used effectively, will improve your communication and help you in your business and personal life.
- Be Clear. Most people are not specific as to what they want and, therefore, can’t articulate what they are trying to say or achieve. It is hard to have someone meet your expectations when you aren’t specific and clear.
I manage a dispersed team of more than 200 people around the globe. To do this well, I need to be clear about my expectations for client interactions. I developed a “Guide to Excellence,” which everyone reads and acknowledges so there is no ambiguity as to what is expected of them and me.
For example, one of our commitments is that we have a two-minute or less response time during business hours to any client request. The response may be an acknowledgment of receipt, but it tells the person, “I received your request, and I will address your concern.”
Being clear about my expectations allows there to be no ambiguity in communication.
- Be Curious. It has been said the frustration is expectations not being met. When you are not getting the interaction or results you are looking for, I recommend being inquisitive rather than judgmental.
I believe most people are doing the best they can. Sometimes they fall short because they don’t understand; they don’t want to disappoint; or for some reason, they can’t comply with the request. When you seek to understand their point of view, this transforms relationships. Don’t assume they are trying to be difficult.
Once you understand their point of view, you can determine the best course of action.
- Be Consistent. There is safety when there is consistency. Mixed messages and inconsistency in our words and actions lead to distrust. When trust has been broken, communication almost always is broken.
When managing teams, it is essential to treat the team consistently. Communication is more than words spoken. It is also promises kept. If you have a deadline and are clear about that commitment, then there needs to be action taken if the commitment isn’t met. Consistency goes hand in hand with clarity. Let your yes mean yes and your no, no. Your team will come to rely on you and perform at a higher level when they understand the objectives and know there are rules to abide by.
- Be Trustworthy. Don’t violate someone’s confidence. When people take the risk and share things to deepen the relationship, honor that trust. Sometimes people need to be heard so they can move past whatever it is that is keeping them from moving forward.
Being able to allow people to share what is happening deepens trust and, therefore, the relationship. Listen intently. Involve active listening skills, and don’t interrupt. Let them know it is safe to speak with you.
- Be Transparent. If you make a mistake, own it. Acknowledge it. We are all human, and no one expects perfection. You will gain respect when you state you made a mistake and ask how it can be made right.
While good communication is simple, it isn’t easy. Like any skill, it must be practiced. However, if you work at it, no skill will net you more in terms of rewards.
Having put these techniques into practice, I know it has helped me build relationships with my team, my husband and business partner of 22-plus years, my strategic partners, and my family.
Anne Lackey is the co-founder of HireSmart Virtual Employees. She helps business owners improve their bottom line by reducing overwhelm and staff turnover. She helps businesses raise their customers satisfaction by strategic staffing with virtual employees. She is a three-time best-selling author, national speaker, and featured expert on hiring, teambuilding, managing remote employees, and business growth.