Four Ways to Improve Your Business Communication Skills
You need your business to run as smoothly as possible. To do this, you might stress that your employees focus on skillsets like time management and leadership. While these are important skills, you shouldn’t overlook one of the most important skills for a successful business: interpersonal communication.
Why is good communication so important in the workplace? First, think about the devastating effects of miscommunication. At home, it can lead to hurt feelings and damaged relationships. At work, it can decrease productivity, cause arguments, and contribute to a tense work environment.
In contrast, effective communication increases productivity by decreasing stress and conflict. It ensures the right tasks get done within the right timeframe. It enables good work relationships. And it creates a positive environment that fosters successful business practices.
Read below for a brief overview of some communication strategies that will help your business succeed.
1. Be Clear and Concise
Before speaking to a co-worker or employee about a business matter, think about your main point. What information matters most? When you start to speak, get to that point quickly. Be direct and straightforward, and you’re less likely to confuse people with an excess of information.
Similarly, use specific details instead of vague ones to communicate your message, and your audience will be better equipped understand your point. For instance, instead of saying, “I’d really like you to finish that project sometime soon,” say, “I need that project completed by 5 p.m. tomorrow.” This can eliminate confusion and save time.
You should also be as clear as possible when communicating bad news. Be straightforward, and always deliver bad news in person instead of via email. Don’t be vague””chances are your employees already know bad news is coming, and dragging out the process only makes the process more upsetting.
2. Work on Your Body Language
We don’t communicate solely with words. Everything about our demeanor expresses a specific point, from our eye contact to our facial expressions. Understanding what your body language says and interpreting others’ body language correctly will help you communicate more effectively.
Practice using body language to make others feel like you’re actively engaged in the conversation. Make eye contact and sit up straight. Focus on what the other person says””don’t talk over him or her. Put away any electronic devices and pay attention to the speaker.
Your body language should also match your message. If you say something positive while hunched over and without making eye contact, your body language contradicts your message’s main point. This makes you seem less trustworthy and can confuse your listener.
To improve your understanding of body language, observe others in the office. How do they act when they relay good news? Bad news? Can you tell how others feel about the message they receive? Observing nonverbal cues and implementing them yourself will improve your own conversations immensely.
3. Be a Better Listener
One of the best things you can do to improve communication is listen. When you actively listen to your employees or co-workers, they feel respected and trusted.
To listen better, really pay attention to the conversation. Don’t let your mind wander. Instead of thinking about what you want to say next, listen to what the speaker says. Respond to what they actually say instead of saying something that furthers your own agenda in the conversation.
Never interrupt the speaker. Instead, ask questions at appropriate times, and listen carefully to the reply. Don’t put the speaker on the defensive with “why” questions, like, “Why didn’t you complete this project on time?” Instead, allow them to communicate their feelings by asking, “What happened, and how did you feel about that?” Make it clear that you understand where they come from.
When replying to the speaker, first summarize their main points, then ask if you’ve understood correctly. This reassures the speaker that you’ve really listened and ensures that you’re all on the same page.
4. Use “I” Statements
When communicating with other people, even in emotional situations, do everything you can to avoid making them feel judged. Personal attacks or assertions of judgments can damage your relationships and contribute to a negative work environment. For example, statements like “you made me angry” immediately put the other person on the defense, escalating the conflict.
When an emotional situation comes up at work, avoid personal attacks and focus on your own emotions. Express your own feelings instead of attacking others. Express your own emotions with “I” statements, like “I feel worried” or “I feel upset.” This allows you to express your own emotional state without accusing or judging others.
Follow These Tips for a Better Business
When you communicate more effectively in the workplace, work gets done more efficiently. You foster a good environment where employees feel trusted and co-workers get along. Eliminate miscommunication and boost your business by implementing these four tips now.