Effective leadership is about great communication. This post will focus on some quick tips to help you communicate like a boss.
As a leader, communicating effectively is something you want to master. According to a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, poor communication can lead to low morale, missed performance goals, and even lost sales. A separate study found that inadequate communication can cost large companies an average of $64.2 million per year, while smaller organizations are at risk of losing $420,000 annually. That's a lot of money! Let's look at some ways to mitigate this loss.
Quick Tips for Effective Communication
Do: Regularly articulate your vision and expectations. Provide regular feedback.
Don’t: Speak negatively about your boss(es) to your team.
Do: Ask about how your people are doing outside of the workplace. Even if they don't want to share, you can show people that you care about them as individuals.
Don’t: Overshare. Maintain boundaries around what is appropriate for workplace communication. Keep confidential information to yourself.
Do: Watch your language. Try not to curse at work.
Don't: Gossip or speak negatively about others.
Do: Encourage your team. Praise their efforts and their successes, both privately and publicly. Communicate words of affirmation whenever you can.
Don’t: Yell or scream at others. Be respectful and considerate in your communications.
Other Tips on Professional Communication
When you work in a team, you need to be able to regularly communicate with others. You need to listen to other people’s ideas, whilst being able to clearly and effectively communicate your own. Good communication can also help to build a positive working relationship, so your team works more effectively and productively together. Adversely, with poor communication, it’s easy for messages to get lost in translation, with misunderstandings creating a host of problems.
When it comes to developing your professional communication skills, there are several things you can try.
Be More Clear. Anyone who has worked with me in the past knows that I'm a fan of brevity. I believe that one of the most important communication skills that we can learn is how to be more clear when communicating with others. Try to focus on the purpose of your communication. Whenever possible, think through what you’d like to say before you begin speaking. be especially clear about what you can do, when it will be done, and what the other individual can expect from the result of your actions.
Ask for feedback. Record yourself (even if it was a meeting with you and two others) and objectively listen to the recording. Ask yourself whether or not you clearly communicated. Did you say “Um” or “Ah” multiple times? Did you repeat yourself unnecessarily? Make notes on how you think you could improve next time. Ask for feedback from those who were in the meeting with you. Collect this feedback and use it to make changes when you present next time.
Learn from others. If you look up to someone who has good communication skills, watch what they do and learn from them. This could be someone famous that you follow on social media or it could be a leader or mentor in your office.
Work on your active listening. A good communicator listens. The next time you’re engaged in a conversation, instead of trying to drive your opinion home, take a step back and actively listen to what is being said. Don’t just listen to the words but consider the person's body language and tone of voice. Note-taking is also a part of listening. Learning to take thorough notes can be a great way to stay on top of conversations, tasks, and deliverables. Practice good note-taking skills now and you’ll likely see huge improvements in your overall listening skills.
Slow down. Take a moment to compose your thoughts before you begin speaking. Speak more slowly than you think you should. This is classic public speaking advice that is easily convertible to your personal life.
Give your full attention. Don’t play on your phone or have your laptop open when you're talking to someone. Make eye contact and try to use “open” body language. Don’t cross your arms or touch your face. Rest your hands on the table (if you’re sitting down) and try not to shift from side to side, pace, or tap your fingers. These behaviors make you look bored or nervous (even if you aren’t).
Use your manners. It can be exciting to have a brainstorming conversation at the office but try not to interrupt when people are speaking. Shouting is generally considered unacceptable in the workplace, so don’t raise your voice at others. If you are angry and need a moment to calm down, excuse yourself and return after you’ve collected your composure. Even if you are somewhat comfortable with your coworkers, don’t curse at work.
Consider a communication course. To take your communication skills to the next level, you may consider enrolling in a course that can hone and develop your skills. As you progress into larger leadership roles, this investment will serve you greatly.