For some people, communicating with others is akin to driving on a winding, bumpy road: difficult to navigate and stressful. They often struggle with getting their messages across, naturally leading to misunderstandings.
The truth is, effective communication skills aren’t innate. They are acquired through experience and must consistently be improved on. We’ve learned the basics of it in school, but it’s only after we’re out of the four corners of the classroom that we get a firsthand experience on how important it really is.
Effective communication is a vital element in professional success. Leaders are required to possess interpersonal skills as they are expected to communicate with employees, other managers and investors. Unfortunately, there are still some leaders who are not effective communicators. This may cause the team to fall short, unable to perform to its full potential because the leader failed in asserting a cohesive unit.
Here are 10 things that might help in order to improve on much-needed communication skills and leadership.
#1 Get Personal
Leaders usually keep a strict professional relationship with their employees. Because of this, they usually only get the watered down version of the truth, especially when it comes to office dynamics. There’s nothing wrong with this mentality but keeping everyone at arm’s length just means you’ll never get to develop meaningful relationships with the people you’re working with. Try to take some time to sit down with them and ask about their lives. The more information you have of them, the more you’ll know how to communicate and lead them.
#2 Have Empathy
The best leaders possess a heightened sense of awareness. This allows them to read a person or a situation by perceiving moods and attitudes of those they communicate with. With this, they can immediately handle any abrupt change in their surroundings and adapt their messaging to be effective. Empathizing with your team offers a window to your authentic and caring side, making the people you work with easily trust you.
#3 Mean What You Say
In order to lead with effective communication, it’s your responsibility to always mean what you say. Your employees would less likely trust your words if you fail to follow through on your words.
#4 Know Your Body Language
When it comes to communicating, being aware of body language helps in discerning whether the interaction is genuine or not. To reinforce the message they want to get across, great leaders constantly keep in mind their facial expressions, hand movements, body posture and eye contact.
#5 Be Concise
All too often people go off on tangents while they’re talking, too caught up in their own thoughts to notice that their listeners have started to tune them out. When it comes to conversations, it’s usually best to just cut to the chase. Start by being concise to avoid confusion.
An essential part of communication is having the ability to listen. This gives you the chance to know what’s going on in your office and what troubles your team, and also allows you to come up with solutions regarding their concerns for a better workplace dynamic.
#7 Be Open-Minded
There’s a significant truth in the axiom: “You can’t please everyone.”
The thing is, not everyone is going to have a high opinion of you — there will always be something you do that will tick people off. A great leader has the willingness to confront these issues and get to the root of the problem with an open mind.
#8 Know What You’re Talking About
People are more interested in having conversations with someone who has substance. No one wants to listen to a person who just keeps on blabbering inanely, never adding value to a topic nor a situation. As a leader, you should possess subject matter expertise so your team will listen to you and follow your instructions.
#9 Be Consistent
Daniel Marlin, an entrepreneur and marketer from Cape Town, South Africa, said it best: “When you’re consistent with your words, tone and all other forms of communication, you begin to create a personal brand.” With a personal brand, you will be viewed as trustworthy and dependable, making people want to work with you.
#10 Be Honest
As a leader, trust is the key factor in efficiently leading your team. However, trust isn’t easily gained. You can’t just demand for it because of your position, you have to earn it. Being honest through your words, actions and decisions will speed up the process, making for a more comfortable workplace and easier, effective communication among you and your team.