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Effective Communication Means Better Business
On just about every job description these days, you’ll see the words ‘good communication skills required’. And while some people are instinctively better communicators than others, there are inherent elements within the communication process that are key to making sure that information is relayed and understood to achieve the best possible outcome. Understanding these can vastly improve any communication efforts, building trust, enhancing teamwork, and reducing stress, confusion and error.
Of course communication is a complex issue - have a look at what elements are at play there:
Understanding the process of communication
The key is understanding that effective communication is more than simply exchanging information. There are several stages involved:
Planning - The first step is understanding the purpose of the communication. Planning what you want to achieve and how to get your message across in the best possible way is vital in order to communicate effectively.
Listening – One of the most integral elements of the communication process is listening. You can’t develop a rational response unless you listen and assimilate clearly to what is being said. That means focussing on the speaker, and demonstrating that you’re interested, without interruption, or judging until they are finished. Finally, take the time you need to deliberate on what has been said before formulating your response.
Body language – This is often neglected as a key part of the communication process. But, even though you may not be aware of it, we say a lot through our stance and gesticulation. Be aware of your body language, as it can create conflicting messages indicating that we aren’t listening, are being patronising, or even becoming aggressive. Try to maintain eye contact and avoid standoffish signals such as crossing your arms.
Managing stress – When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to not listen, misread people and give out bad body signals. It’s important to stay relaxed and focused. You can practise this by taking time out to reflect before answering or asking for something to be repeated. Try to talk methodically, slowly and concisely to avoid being carried away emotionally.
Be assertive when necessary – While it’s important to be respectful to the other party, it’s important that you get your needs and messages across and achieve the objectives of your communication. That means valuing your opinions, repressing negatives thoughts and judgements – and, crucially, learning to say ‘no’ when you have to.
Communication is a two-way street. Be prepared to compromise and if that’s not possible, then agree to disagree and look at other ways to resolve issues between you and who you’re communicating with.
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