From the time we're
young children, we're taught how to talk. All through school we take
classes in English to help us speak and write properly. What we aren't
taught is the art of interpersonal communication. Being an effective
communicator is especially important in developing and keeping relationships
with your associates, members and/or clients. In fact, according to
the American Management Association 90% of all problems in an organization
is a direct result of poor communication. To make sure you not only
survive … but thrive, there are four basic assumptions regarding communication
that you must understand.
Skills Can Be Learned. Many people believe good communicators are
"born with" the skill - and only a few "lucky people" possess outstanding
communication ability. In reality, those excellent communicators who
you admire either had superior role models, or they made a deliberate
effort to learn. For example, Winston Churchill, one of the greatest
orators of all time, grew up with a severe stuttering problem. It took
him three years to get through the 8th grade because of his poor communication
skills. With practice and determination he became a great speaker.
To help you with
your interpersonal communication skills I would recommend Toastmasters
International. Toastmasters programs can be offered at your workplace.
They focus on all aspects of communication and the program allows you
to get positive constructive feedback from fellow workers. To get more
information about setting up a club or going to an existing club call
You Have Two
Ears And One Mouth.
Many people assume that good communication only deals with how well
you talk. This couldn't be further from the truth. Most of the communication
mishaps happen because of poor listening habits. To become an active
listener follow these 6 rules:
- Limit your
own talking - You have two ears and one mouth. The more you listen
the more opportunity you'll have to find and understand the wants,
needs and aspirations of your employees.
- Don't interrupt
- By interrupting your employee, sensitivity, rapport and commitment
are all killed. Although at times it seems expedient to interrupt,
this perceived lack of respect for your employees helps to deteriorate
the relationship and makes it harder to develop rapport.
- Notice nonverbal
communication - Only 7% of the message we are communicating is
through the words we use, 38% is through the tone of our voice and
55% is through our body language. This means that body language and
tone of voice convey 93% of the message that someone communicates.
Therefore, if you're talking to an employee and they start doing things
like, crossing their arms, crossing their legs away from you, yawning,
leaning back, looking bored or avoiding eye contact, you need to "listen"
to their body language. By being sensitive to their body language
you pick up the real underlying messages and feelings that are being
conveyed. In addition, you can encourage others to communicate with
you by softening your body language. Follow the key points in this
acronym. S- smile, O - open posture, F- forward lean, T- watch others
territory, E- eye contact, N- nodding to show you're listening.
- Don't only
think about what you're going to say next - Too many times we
are so concerned about we want to say that we don't hear what the
other person is really saying. By not paying total attention to our
employee(s), we focus on what we think is important to them and not
what they're really concerned about.
- Talk to your
employees in a conducive setting - To get others to listen to
us and have them focus on the substance of our message, distractions
must be minimized. Is your office too hot?, Too cool?, Is the phone
ringing all the time?, Are you answering the phone while talking to
them?, Are there other people around?, Do you have distracting habits?
To make sure active listening takes place, you must alleviate all
what has been said - To avoid misunderstandings, it's important
to repeat back what your employee has told you. The problem is that
when you talk, how you say something and the words you use may have
a different meaning to your employee. Many times we say, "do you understand?
or does that make sense?" In most cases your employee will say, "yes".
The question we really need to find out is, "what did they understand?"
And since it may seem rude to ask that question, we need to repeat
back what they said to make sure we are both hearing and understanding
the same thing.