How many times have we written on our CV or described one of our keys strengths as ‘excellent communication skills’? This phrase is often banded about and often has no real meaning without any evidence to back it up. Communication sits at the heart of any organisation, large or small, or indeed any relationship. Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication. Communicating effectively is simple when we get it right but can be incredibly damaging when we get it wrong. We all have a responsibility to role model effective communication as this will create a more open and honest culture.
Here are my suggestions to help make your communication more effective:
- Be honest
Honesty is always the best policy. How many times did we hear this growing up? Yet, sadly it is often ignored. If your organisation is going through any kind of change whether it be installing a new IT system or restructuring your workforce, tell your employees about it. Involve them in the process and listen to what they have to say. The workforce are at the sharp end and can often foresee potential problems before they arise. They are the experts in their role and they will be more inclined to embrace change if you involve them. Expect resistance if you don’t.
Also, it is important to be honest with yourself. Accept that you have strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself what is it I do well and what could I do better? Furthermore, if you are a manager or a leader you should be aware that your team will all have different styles and you will need to think about adapting your behaviour in order to accommodate this diversity.
We have one mouth and two ears for a reason – think about it! Giving your employees, for example, space to give their input can be a valuable addition to any organisation regardless of its size. We all like to feel we are being heard. This does not mean that you have to necessarily agree with what your employee is saying, but as long as you have let them know you have heard them this can go a long way towards strengthening relationships and building trust. It is important, however, to explain why you disagree in a way that is constructive and won’t prevent the employee from sharing in the future.
- Make a commitment to change
Making a change is as easy at ABC. Have a think about your communication style and then consider the following:
- How do you like to communicate with others?
- What irritates you about how others communicate with you?
- Make a commitment to change one thing about how you communicate.
Simply write your commitment to change on a sticky note and leave it in a visible place such as your laptop or diary. Think about who might help you to achieve this goal and what action you are going to take. Most importantly set a time limit on when you want to achieve this change by and also ask for feedback from trusted colleagues to make sure you are on track.
Be a role model for positive communication in your organisation and monitor the impact. Develop that sense of increased awareness which means you can adapt your communication style depending on who you are speaking with. Ensure that you are always choosing the most appropriate means of communication too – so no hiding behind emails or text!