I have spent most of my professional life figuring out how to most effectively communicate. Yet, I think one of the most valuable tools is having the ability to listen rather than talk. Great communicators are great listeners, and develop keen observational powers that enable them to sense the moods, attitudes and concerns of those they hope to connect with.
The key is to work at being a good listener – it’s just as important as talking. The list of 10 communications tips below, condensed from Mike Myatt’s article, offers some great ideas to help you improve your own communications skills:
- Speak not with a forked tongue
In most cases, people just won’t open up to those they don’t trust. While you can attempt to demand trust, it rarely works.
- Get personal
Classic business theory tells leaders to stay at arms length. I say stay at arms length if you want to remain in the dark, receiving only highly sanitized versions of the truth.
- Get specific
Simple and concise is always better than complicated and confusing. Your goal is to weed out the superfluous and to make your words count.
- Focus on the leave-behinds not the take-aways
The key is to approach each interaction with a servant’s heart. When you truly focus on contributing more than receiving you will have accomplished the goal.
- Have an open mind
A leader takes her game to a whole new level the minute she willingly seeks out those who hold dissenting opinions and opposing positions with the goal not of convincing them to change their minds, but with the goal of understanding what’s on their minds.
- Shut-up and listen
Great leaders know when to dial it up, dial it down, and dial it off (mostly down and off).
- Replace ego with empathy
Empathetic communicators display a level of authenticity and transparency that is not present with those who choose to communicate behind the carefully crafted facade, propped-up by a very fragile ego.
- Read between the lines
In this age of instant communication, everyone seems to be in such a rush to communicate what’s on their minds that they fail to realize everything to be gained from the minds of others.
- When you speak, know what you’re talking about
Develop a technical command over your subject matter. If you don’t possess subject matter expertise, few people will give you the time of day. Good communicators address both the “what” and “how” aspects of messaging so they don’t fall prey to becoming the smooth talker who leaves people with the impression of form over substance.
- Speak to groups as individuals
Great communicators can tailor a message such that they can speak to 10 people in a conference room or 10,000 people in an auditorium and have them feel as if they were speaking directly to each one of them as an individual.
Social media has changed the landscape of the “old way” businesses communicate not only with their customers, but also with their employees. How has your business adapted to new forms of communicating?