Talk to Me – 4 Tips for Better Communication
Communication is perhaps the most valuable tool that mankind has at their disposal. Yet, both in our professional and personal lives we may at times struggle to communicate effectively. How can we improve our ability to connect with our clients, colleagues and others?
How to Really Listen – Communication starts, not with speaking, but with listening. Hearing someone and listening to them are two very different things. Listening is an active response, not a passive one. Truly listening to someone takes effort and concentration. When you’re listening to a client or colleague, as hard as it may be, try not to think about what you are going to say in response to them. If you are thinking about what you want to say, you are not listening closely anymore. It’s perfectly fine if you need a few moments to gather your thoughts after the other person stops speaking. Don’t be afraid of a few moments of silence. If you have really listened to the other person, it will show in your reply.
Take Your Time – If we are in a rush, we are unlikely to be able to truly engage in effective communication. Good communication takes time. If you aren’t confident you understand what someone is telling you, take the time to ask them questions. Conversely, take your time in responding to the questions of others. This can be a real challenge for those of us that want to just “get to the point” and move on. It might help for us to remember that rushed, and thus ineffective, communication can end up taking more time in the long run than just having a more comfortably paced conversation in the first place.
Dealing With Conflict – Differences of opinion are unavoidable. Instead of viewing conflict as merely a problem, try to focus on the good that can come from gaining a better understanding of the other person’s viewpoint. Don’t focus on winning an argument or proving that your view is the “right” one. Focus less on proving who is right and who is wrong and instead on how you can come to an agreement. Compromising is not necessarily a sign of weakness. In fact, developing the ability to come to solutions that everyone can agree on is an incredibly valuable skill – both professionally and personally.
Handling Criticism – Of course, criticism is never easy to hear. But taking a defensive view of criticism is unlikely to do us any good. The fact of the matter is that most of the time there is at least some truth in the criticism we receive. Instead of immediately taking offense, look for the truth in any negative feedback you receive. And always remember to focus on the message and not necessarily the messenger. Criticism may not be delivered in the way we would like, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. As difficult as it may be to acknowledge our flaws, without doing so we will never have a chance to improve ourselves and our businesses.
What tips do you have for more effective communication? Please leave a reply in the comments section to share your thoughts.