Not everyone is born with the ability to communicate their thoughts easily and even fewer people know how to react to stressful situations with tact and restraint. When you’re working in a company, running a business, or leading a team, communication is one of the most important skills you could possess. And while you might not be great at communication, nothing is stopping you from learning.
In order to help you sharpen your skills, I have put together a brief guide on how to improve communication skills at work.
1) Pay attention to your body language
Most people are able to read body language so they’ll immediately recognise if you seem bored or aren’t paying attention. While pretending to pay attention is considered polite, it can actually cause offence. Unfortunately, most people are not in the habit of monitoring their body language and they subconsciously communicate their level of interest towards others.
One of the best ways to avoid this is to find a comfortable posture and stick to it. If you’re feeling relaxed leaning against a wall, or tucking your hands into your pockets, do so. A relaxed posture can be an effective way of masking your body language. Another solution is to observe your companion’s body language and try to match it.
2) Watch your tone
I’m sure you’ve noticed before that when people are excited or interested, their voice and tone changes. When you’re truly interested in something, your tone fluctuates, rising and falling almost musically to convey your interest. This is one of the reasons why people’s interest is instantly engaged by passionate speeches. It’s not the words, per se, but rather the tone that influences others.
On the other hand, your tone can also betray you. If you’re bored or simply not interested in the conversation, even if your body language doesn’t reveal anything, your tone will. This applies to written communication as well. There two best and easiest ways to deal with this are to either learn how to modulate your tone, or simply move the conversation to more engaging topics.
3) Pay attention
Listening and paying attention to what your companion is saying is the most vital part of communication. Unfortunately, there are too many distractions that can draw your attention away. Nothing can hinder communication more than being glued to your phone while the other person is speaking to you. This way, you’ll only be listening with half an ear and that can lead to serious misunderstandings.
When you’re talking to someone, make sure to put any distractions away and focus on the person speaking to you. Always remember to maintain a level of eye contact so that your companion knows that you’re paying attention and are interested in what he’s saying.
4) Be empathetic
Being empathetic is one of the best ways to connect with people around you, whether in professional situations or otherwise. Empathy and being empathetic means that you’re looking at a given situation from another person’s perspective as well, not just your own.
If you find a member on your team struggling with a particular project, instead of getting irritated, try to empathise and offer them suggestions. Often enough, you’ll find yourself in situations that you find difficult to handle and would wish for empathy as well. Looking at things from someone else’s perspective can be a good way to avoid conflicts, misunderstandings, and encourage better communication in the workplace.
Julie’s article looks at this in more detail, and talks about what it takes to be more empathetic and why don’t we do it more often.
5) Don’t lose track
Sometimes getting distracted is inevitable. You might be discussing something important and suddenly the conversation is interrupted by a phone call – it’s easy to forget a portion of what you discussed. When you return to your conversation, it’s always best to ask the other person to remind you of what you discussed and where you left off, just to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything important.
If you keep these five things in mind, you can improve how well you communicate with others in no time.