Communication is one of those things that everyone needs, but not everyone is good at. Most people can talk and converse with others, but where communication comes into play is the understanding of what’s being said and acknowledging the roles being played by each person involved in a conversation.
When it comes to the business world, or any part of your world, it’s important to understand how people communicate. For example, your mom might be someone who communicates best using hand gestures and a soft voice, whereas your brother might communicate best privately, with limited eye contact. At work, your employees are each going to communicate differently. Someone might be comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people and using humour as a way to communicate confidence, whereas another employee might prefer one-on-one meetings and just laying everything out without having to “read between the lines”.
To help you out, we’ve come up with a list of three ways you can improve your communication as a business professional and in your personal life.
Listen and understand
Trying to listen to what someone is saying and understanding at the same time can be a bit challenging for some. Especially when you’re interrupted or your mind is somewhere else.
It’s important to actively listen to what the other person, or people, are saying and understand how it affects you, how it affects your business or work, and how you can solve the problem. Responding in a way that is negative or passive aggressive, especially if you are the boss or owner of a company, is going to leave a negative feeling with those people, and they’ll be less likely to trust you in the future or feel safe around you.
If you find yourself failing to understand what someone is saying, ask them to repeat themselves or let them know that you don’t understand and perhaps they can explain it to you. If you’re pressed for time, but don’t want to just shove them off, you can let them know that you’ve got a meeting or that you can’t talk right now, and schedule a time with them when you can both be present and talk.
Preferred communication styles
You don’t have to understand every single communication style, but learning how your employees communicate is a huge bonus as an employer. It allows you to better communicate with them in a way that they understand and are able to respond to. It shows that you’ve adapted your communication style to meet their needs as a sign of trust and respect, which is more likely to be reciprocated in their answer or response.
Depending on the industry you’re in, you’ll likely notice a few similarities amongst your employees. People will use the same lingo or slang, and know some of the same people. What differs is how they interpret messages and understand conversation. Some employees might find it challenging to converse with clients, but they thrive when it comes to technical conversations amongst co-workers.
Understanding how someone communicates is the first step in getting onto their level or finding a way to neutralize the conversation as much as possible, and have them understand the message.
The same goes for your personal relationships. If you can understand how your friends or family members communicate, you can understand how to adapt your message or communication so that they are more likely to listen and understand what you’re saying.
Our third and final tip for improving communication is to be mindful. This goes for the type of language you use and how you communicate your message.
Using curse words, slang or jargon that your employees (or whomever you’re talking to) won’t understand creates a divide in the relationship. It non-verbally tells the other person that you are more educated than them on the specific topic and almost automatically they tune out of what you’re saying.
If you use curse words, this can be perceived as anger or sarcasm, both of which are negative when it comes to conversing with your employees. Some people are more naturally sarcastic, and if that’s you, it’s important as an employer that you tell your employees that before they start working for you, so they know not to be offended easily.
When you’re talking with someone, be mindful of your tone and non-verbal cues. Speaking with an amplified tone can come across as abrasive or asserting your power over another. Right away that person is going to be defensive because they are feeling attacked. If your non-verbal communication (eye contact, hand gestures, or body language) portray one message but what you’re saying is another, this can be misleading and will lead the other person to not want to trust you.