by Julia Makhubela
Communication at work is the glue that holds everything together: imagine starting a new job and no tells you what to do or imagine going to a meeting where no one is talking. Without communication, nothing happens. This is something that we can take for granted and completely overlook.
Regardless of the work that you do, you will need to have effective written and verbal communication skills. Effective communication may feel like it should be instinctive, but how many times have you ever written or said something to someone that they took the wrong way? This happens in the workplace all the time. The best leaders and individual contributors are effective communicators! They have the ability to convey a message clearly and effectively.
Want to be an effective communicator? Here are 4 skills that you can practice and develop:
1. Practice Active Listening: being a good listener is one the best ways to be an effective communicator. Pay close attention to what the other person is saying and asking clarifying questions (“So, what you’re saying is…”). Listening will help you to better understand what the other person is trying to say, and you can then respond appropriately.
2. Be mindful of nonverbal communication: your body language, eye contact, and tone all colour the message that you are trying to convey. A genuinely relaxed stance and friendly tone will make you appear approachable and will encourage others to speak openly with you.
3. Be clear and concise: effective communication means saying what you want clearly and directly, whether you are speaking to someone in person, on the phone, or via email. If you ramble on, your listener or reader will either tune you out or will be unsure of exactly what you want. Think about what you want to say before you say it, it will help you to avoid talking excessively and/or confusing your audience. Sometimes you may even, express that you need a minute to collect your thoughts before speaking.
4. Giving and receiving feedback is a key communication skill. Giving feedback includes giving praise, something as simple as saying “good job” or “thanks for taking care of that”. You should be able to accept, even encourage, feedback from others. Listen to feedback you are given and make efforts to implement it.
Practicing these skills will help you to become an effective communicator and you must continue practising and growing in your ability as you progress in your career. You can also join your nearest Toastmasters Club (https://www.toastmasters.org/), a non-profit educational organisation that teaches effective communication.
Julia Makhubela writes for Sivuka. She is an entrepreneur, employee experience designer, Duke CE Faculty Member, facilitator and coach. For over 10 years she worked in technology as a mobile and digital marketer and moved on to facilitation and coaching. She supports employers design meaningful work, helping employees connect and collaborate with others, enabling self actualised individuals. She works with leaders to ensure that their culture and leadership practices are fit for today’s world, and that they are able to attract, engage and retain today’s workforce. She is one of Sivuka's favourite facilitators and coaches.