Written By: Reed Langton
Every successful project requires a great deal of communication. It is the cornerstone of every interaction in today’s business world. To help you keep your communication skills in tip-top shape, I’ve outlined a quick list of “Dos and Don’ts”. Follow these pointers, and you’re sure to get your message heard loud and clear.
- Do Be Clear & Direct. Say what you need to say. Whether it is spoken or written, ensure your language is clear and unambiguous and your message is directly communicated. Don’t beat around the bush; go for the throat. Check that the receiver understands the message as you intended, and avoid acronyms when there’s a chance they will be unclear.
- Do Paraphrase. When in doubt, talk it out. The goal of paraphrasing is to ensure you are clear about what has been said and let the speaker know that you care about what he or she is communicating. Both are equally important in effective communication. Use a variation on “What I hear you saying is . . .” to accomplish this.
- Do Be Respectful. This means using the other person’s name, looking them in the eye, and nodding to aid in demonstrating you understand what they are saying. If you are communicating in writing, reread before sending your message to ensure that it could not be misinterpreted or taken as disrespectful. When on the phone, don’t multitask even if you think the person on the other end of the line does not know you are.
- Do Tailor Conversation to Audience. Communicating with your boss, co-worker, customer or supplier may require a slightly different style. With your boss, be careful to pick the right time and ask for what you need and what you expect they can reasonably deliver. For a co-worker, be direct, transparent, and open-minded. And if a customer or supplier calls with a problem, listen carefully, apologize if necessary even if it wasn’t your fault, and offer a solution.
- Do Face-To-Face. Whenever you have difficult information to convey or something that could result in many questions, choose to have a direct face-to-face conversation. You will also have the huge benefit of non-verbal communication cues including tone of voice, facial expressions, and other body language.
- Don’t Give More Attention To Cell Phones Than People. This practice is rude and gives your audience the message that their company is not important. In addition, constant texting, or checking your phone means you are not engaged in your current interaction.
- Don’t Overuse Abbreviations. This keeps people from practicing their spelling and from writing clear, articulate messages. It can put them at a disadvantage in getting their points across, which can be a particular liability at many jobs.
- Don’t Monopolize The Conversation. For communication to be effective, it must flow both ways. If you focus on solely getting your point across, you could miss some very important information from others involved in the conversation.
- Don’t React Or Get Upset. Many things involved in difficult discussion can and will illicit the urge for an emotional response. Remember that getting upset will not help you think clearly and will leave a bad impression on all parties involved in the interaction.
- Don’t Interrupt. Allow everyone their share of the floor. Everyone involved in a project meeting is there for a reason and has a valid need for speaking time. Don’t make someone feel slighted by dominating the entire meeting.
Keep these pointers at the forefront when preparing for your next meeting or project, and you’re sure to leave everyone well informed.