Communication is probably the most important skill a manager can have, but sadly many fail to recognise the impact their poor communication skills have on their team and colleagues.  If you or someone you know needs to improve their communication skills, ask them to try the following tips to improve their interactions with others.

  1. Always seek to understand others views and opinions first.When listening to someone always follow the order 1) listen, 2) understand, 3) interpret, and 4) respond.Resist the temptation to jump from listening to responding without making sure you understand.
  2. Remember the basics of human interactions – if you want someone to listen to your more then you must first listen to them more!
  3. Ask a trusted colleague/friend for feedback on your listening skills.For example, at meetings how often do you interrupt, misinterpret, look bored, become distracted, complete others sentences?
  4. Remember over 50% of what we communicated is signalled by our body language.Develop your awareness of non verbal communication (body language) so that you can understand the true meaning of what others say to you.
  5. Ask someone to critically examine your body language – does it work for you or against you?
  6. To demonstrate you are listening, sit squarely facing the other person and maintain good eye contact (without staring).
  7. Paraphrase what others have said to you to clarify meaning.
  8. To present opinions forcefully and directly, avoid phrases like ‘it seems to me’ or ‘it is likely that’.Use strong, ‘punchy’ verbs.
  9. Learn to make your points clearly and succinctly.Practice by taking articles from journals or trade magazines and produce a one page summary.
  10. Ensure you use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation in your written communications.If you are unsure, The Little English Handbook – Choices and Conventions 8th Ed. 1998 (Corbett and Finkle) will help.

Ultimately, the key to effective communication is to ensure that you are able to give people your full time and attention.  If you do not have enough time then reschedule a time when you have do.  By doing this you will also demonstrate the importance of your relationship with them.