Effective communication is one of the most important skills for any employee to develop. The bad news is that most employees do not actually receive any training on how to communicate with their co-workers and clients. The good news is that most communication skills can be learned over time with deliberate and intentional practice.
Improve Your Listening Skills
Listening requires giving someone our full, undivided attention. Humans are actually horrible multi-taskers. Stop what you are doing and give the speaker your attention. Remember to use your “OARS.”
- Ask Open-ended questions for more information.
- Give Affirmation to encourage the speaker.
- Restate what you hear by rephrasing the most important points. This gives both parties a chance to clarify if there is any confusion.
- Summarize those points in a clear, concise way so that you remember what was said.
Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication
Anywhere from 55 to 90 percent of all communication is non-verbal. Non-verbal communication can affect comprehension, trust, and clarity. Pay attention to facial expressions, gestures, body language, posture, touch, and appearance. Remember that you are constantly sending and receiving messages and by that communicating, whether you mean to or not.
Keep Criticism Constructive
People thrive on positivity, so if you must criticize, focus on the task at hand and be solution-focused. Check your emotions at the door, and provide positive reinforcement. Remain objective and take a deep breath or pause if necessary. Employees want to collaborate on how to do their job better, so ask for their input! If you have to deliver bad news, always do so in person to minimize the chance for miscommunication.
There is a simple formula to help us remember how to let others know that they are appreciated: we should practice the “ART” of appreciation:
A – appreciate R – reason T – thank you
For example: “I appreciate the work you did on the project last week. Thank you so much.”
Find other creative ways to show appreciation: Almost everyone enjoys food, especially for meetings! Offer a personalized gift or days off around birthdays or holidays. Create a tradition of publicly recognizing and praising good work. Say “thank you” sincerely and often!