5 Things Effective Communicators Know
Good communication is crucial for good leadership, and it goes well beyond talking – communicating effectively means being aware of your own body language and that of your interlocutor, as well as broader strategies for sharing information. Great communicators are people who know the following things.
1. Keep it simple
Stay away from technical jargon unless absolutely necessary, and distil the communication down to its bare bones. Before you speak, think: What do I need this person to hear? People tend to lose concentration after ten minutes of speech, and earlier if the subject matter is dull. Put your ‘takeaway’ message right up front and then expand on it. For example, “I need you to ring this stakeholder right away and ask her to provide a status report. I’ll explain who she is and why it’s important” tells the listener what their task is and what to pay attention to next. That will stay in their head far more effectively than if you launch into the background of the project and why it’s been delayed and then finish with ‘…and so I need you to ring her and ask what’s going on’.
Studies suggest that 45% of our daily communication is listening, but most of us aren’t good at it. Make sure you stop and listen to what the other person is saying, and ensure that you’re leaving gaps in the conversation for them to ask for clarification if necessary. If what you’re explaining is technical or complex, check in periodically with them that it’s making sense. Also, watch their body language: someone who doesn’t understand may not speak up, but their body language and eye contact will shift. A glazed expression or restless body language indicates that you’ve lost their full attention and will need to switch gears.
3. Keep it specific
If you want a report on your desk by the end of the week, say ‘5 pm Friday’ not ‘when you’re able’. Just as people are recommended to develop SMART goals for themselves, tasks that you give to your team should also be measurable and specific for them to comprehend.
4. Be aware of your own body language
Eye contact makes it easier for people to hear you. Your body language is part of the message you’re delivering, so keep an open stance and don’t fidget. Communicate with your body as well as your words that you value the other person’s input – that means don’t check your phone!
5. Trust is everything
In the end, it doesn’t matter what you say or how well you say it if your actions don’t reflect the words. Effective communicators know that they’re communicating through their actions as well as their words. Be honest about the reasons behind the communication and have the integrity to admit your failures.
What do you think?
A great communicator is an effective leader, and since this is an area that very many of us struggle with, it’s important to always be open to learning new strategies. What communication tips would you like to add to this list?
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.