It is estimated that poor communication and collaboration tools cost businesses over £7,500 per employee per year. (Per Computer Weekly)
Communication can be defined as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviour (source )
It is so easy to make a hash of communication and even more so as a manager or leader.
Most businesses are fast-moving and the pressure on you as the lead can seem overpowering. Often it feels easy to take shortcuts to get to the outcomes. From personal experience, take shortcuts on communication and you will live to regret it.
Cries of “you never include us!”
Comments of “that’s not what we heard”
Exclamations of “When was this shared?”
And many more comments, which simply creates tension in the workplace and loses the trust you are so busy trying to build up.
Here are 10 tips to help you get it right with your employees:
1: Become an engaged listener
If you’re looking at your computer, contemplating what you’re wanting to say, or staring into space, you’re will definitely miss the nonverbal cues in the discussion.
To become an engaged listener, start by listening for keywords and phrases rather than focusing on content. Ask questions if necessary to clarify points made during the discussion. Listen actively without interrupting or giving advice. Avoid judging or criticising unless asked directly. And make sure you understand exactly what was meant so you can respond appropriately.
2. Focus on the current moment.
It may seem obvious but focusing on the here and now helps us be aware of our surroundings and tune out any outside noise. This allows us to concentrate on the people around us without getting distracted by things happening elsewhere.
3. Be curious.
Ask questions to learn more about the topic at hand. Curiosity makes learning easier because it encourages exploration and discovery. Use open questions and clarify.
4. Note non-verbal signals.
Facial expressions can tell us a lot as can gestures and posture.
Think about how much we show through our faces from frowns to smiles and eyebrows raised. Observing a person’s expressions can give you an insight into their thoughts.
Consider a person’s body language. Hands behind the head can indicate a relaxed state but can also mean they are feeling superior to their audience. Hunched shoulders can mean they are trying to hide or lack confidence.
5. Build rapport.
You will see people often matching each other’s words, eye movements and body language. Learning to do this intentionally can help influence and establish rapport with others.
6. Strengthen your message.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking you just share the message one way and only once. The truth is, that we all need to hear a message in a variety of ways for it to embed. And the more visual your message is, the more likely it will be remembered.
7. Confirm Understanding.
The times I’ve seen people give messages and think that people have understood it. Even when you believe you’ve expressed yourself clearly, both verbally and with other signals, the listener doesn’t have your insight into all the information that you do about your purpose and intent.
Remember they cannot see inside your head.
And it is easy it is to build assumptions additionally into the message as the person receiving it.
So check understanding by asking questions to check the person’s take on the message.
8. Listen to the tone and speed of the conversation.
When listening to people speak, pay attention to how they use their voice inflections and gestures. These clues give away information about their feelings. For example, if a speaker uses short sentences and pauses frequently between phrases, he may feel anxious. A speaker who speaks slowly and clearly without pausing may seem confident. Listen carefully to see which one feels more comfortable communicating with you.
9. Be timely.
So often messages are leaked and Chinese whispers occur. Even if you don’t have the full information it is often better to share with your employees and get their input. It shows as an employer you are open and honest.
10. Adjust your message.
Think about who your audience is and change your communication as needed. You will often find busy senior managers want short, sharp information compared to an employee who will want the detail. And remember people want to know what is in it for them. So share the benefits.
Sometimes the communication in difficult conversations can seem very hard. The blog here gives you more insights.
Need more help.
Are you a small employer struggling with your confidence to manage your employees?
Perhaps you’ve never managed until you started your business?
You want to get it right with your employees but it seems such a minefield. No one told you it would be this complicated!
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