6 Ways To Be A Better Communicator
By Morgan Norman
No matter how good you are at communicating, there's always room for improvement. Being a good communicator will affect every aspect of your life - from personal to professional. We've also heard the tips on TV and at seminars: Face the other person, maintain eye contact, follow up with questions. It all boils down to the fact that listening is about discovery.
Looking to improve your communication techniques? Here are a few tips to be a better communicator:
1. Know your audience. Everyone has their own way of communicating, and it's important that you know your audience so you know how to approach and what to expect. You should also be aware of your co-worker's current projects, and gauge whether or not they have any point of reference to the topic you want to discuss. If they have no context, it might take them longer to reply to an inquiry. They may also be the kind of person that doesn't ask too many questions, but don't assume that means they completely understood everything. Be sure to ask follow-up questions to confirm their understanding of the topic at hand.
2. Understand the circumstances. Good communication requires context and fully understanding the circumstances. Making assumptions could lead to wasted time, going in circles without moving forward. In a professional circumstance, this means understanding the goal of the person on the other end of the conversation. What are they trying to accomplish and what is it that they need from you? If you're the one who needs help or advice, be clear on what it is that you're trying to accomplish and convey it to the other person.
3. Listen. Yes, this is included in every possible resource on being a good communicator - but that's because it's important. You have to actively listen in order to reply, contribute and collaborate. A great communicator is an active listener and doesn't interrupt (unless necessary to clarify a point). Even then, try taking notes to ask questions at the end instead of interrupting because your question could be answered in the next sentence.
4. Ask constructive questions. If you understand the circumstances, and listen well, then the questions you ask will be for the next step of clarification. This way, you aren't spending time making the other person repeat the same information, unless you didn't completely understand. The questions you ask are for your benefit and will help you in the long run.
5. Anticipate. Whether you're communicating as you delegate a project, or you're on the receiving end of a conversation, anticipate what could come next. If you're the one providing information, anticipate the questions that you could be asked and be prepared with the answers. If you're the one receiving information (being assigned a task), anticipate the kind of information you may need and prepare questions to ask.
6. Be concise. Give as much information as necessary, but also strive to be as succinct as possible. Too much fluff and beating around the bush could make communication muddy. Write down the points you absolutely have to address, along with how much information you need to provide to ensure you're clear in what you're conveying. Any other information that is not necessary, unless it can help clarify a point, should be left out.
What other tips do you have for being a better communicator?
Morgan Norman is the Founder and CEO of WorkSimple, a Social Goal management program, and is passionate about building the first performance management designed for all employees. Connect with him and WorkSimple on Facebook and Twitter.
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