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Communication is a skill and like all skills it can be improved through practice. Here are a few techniques that can help improve interpersonal relationships and thus result in better business outcomes.
Improving Verbal Communication
Listening is the most crucial part of communication. If you are unable to grasp what the other person is saying then you cannot effectively and accurately process the information and respond in a timely manner. It’s important to listen carefully to the other person and ask for clarifications before formulating a response. Listening is not just limited to hearing, it includes non-verbal communication as well.
2. Take notes.
Always take notes during meetings and do not rely solely on your memory. In case you need to clarify things, send a follow-up email.
3. Think before you speak.
Always pause and think before you speak. Do not say the first thing that comes to your mind. Take a moment and pay close attention to what you say and how you say it. No matter how difficult the situation is, maintain a positive attitude and keep a smile on your face. Do not patronize or be rude.
Observe how communication happens in your work environment, and pay attention to which aspects are positive and negative. Then observe how you conduct yourself. Observe:
How do people react to you?
Are there times when they react more negatively than others, and can you pinpoint why?
Who are the colleagues who you particularly enjoy conversing with? Why?
5. Prepare the content
Contextualize the content of your verbal communications. Know what you want to say and back it up with facts. This will make you appear more professional, knowledgeable and decisive.
Start with the purpose.
Move on to your reasoning.
Review possible outcomes.
Use pitch to help captivate your audience.
A lower pitch tends to communicate gravitas and experience.
Strategically use silence to capture, and keep attention.
Use a range of cadence, speed and style. Don’t speak in monotone or you’ll bore your audience and they would not engage in the content of your communication.
6. Body language
This is important for face-to-face meetings and video conferencing. The eye-contact, open/closed posture, hand movement convey a lot of information. While talking to people, have an open body language. Use eye contact intelligently. Keep eye contact while listening and speaking so that other people know that you are paying attention. Try to stay calm during stressful situations and keep your emotions under control. Do not cross your arms during conversation.
Improving Your Written Communication
Using acronyms and informal language like “Hey”, “TTYL” in formal communication, official e-mail or text, is not acceptable. While drafting keep the following points in mind:
Your message is concise and understandable.
Double check for spelling mistakes and grammar before sending. Make use of the tools that are available online for spelling and grammar checks.
Take the time to re-read everything that you write.
Check for the tone appropriate to the setting.
Make sure that the subject has been covered in depth and that you have not missed out any point.
Stay brief and to the point. Avoid writing stories.
Formatting the document properly
Use bullet points and paragraphs to break up your message.
Highlight your points in bold if you have a lot of text.
Underline anything that you think is crucial.
Use simple language and avoid using too much jargon.