What this looks like:
Writes and speaks clearly and concisely within all communication channels i.e., in person, email, phone, Slack, web conference, etc.
Fosters two-way communication — ensures the receiver received the message the way it intended to be, while ensuring the sender also feels heard and understood
Actively listens to others and seeks to understand without interrupting the speaker
Maintains professionalism in all communication channels and strives to enhance relationships rather than create tension
Is aware of the different behavioral and communication styles in the workplace (including verbal and non-verbal cues) and adjusts appropriately
Remove distractions. One of the easiest ways to show respect and build rapport with a person is to give them your undivided attention. Tending to a distraction immediately demonstrates that something else is more important to them at the moment.
Try this: Show respect when communicating by eliminating any distractions such as phone calls, Slack messages and live interruptions.
Be aware of body language cues. Most people react similarly to certain types of messages.
Try this: Within the next 24 hours, observe the body language of people you communicate with. Signs that the other person agrees or is interested may include: a smile that crinkles near the eyes or a leas towards you or mimicking of your body language. Signs the other person disagrees or is concerned may include folded arms, crossed legs, raised brows, or lack of eye contact. If this happens, ask clarifying questions to get a better understanding of the person’s concern.
Pause before responding. Don’t feel pressured to fill the void—it’s okay for their to be some silence during communication. You don’t want to regret your response by an emotional or impulse reaction.
Try this: If you are communicating in-person and come across a tough question or situation, practice pausing to compose your answer. Pause…think…smile…respond. It’s okay to tell the other person, “Hmm, let me think about that for a second” or “I don’t have that answer at the moment—can I get back to you on that?”
Try this: If you are communicating via email and sense a bit of tension in the email or find yourself getting emotional (even slightly), take a long pause before responding i.e., take a walk around the block, work on another project, talk to a confidante, wait until the next day. Sometimes we just need some time to internalize the information and allow ourselves to be calm before being able to effectively respond.
Practice paraphrasing. Paraphrasing helps the other person feel that they have been heard and understood.
Try this: During your next conversation, restate what the other person is saying in your own words while including the in the message ‘what happened’ and ‘how they felt’ about the situation. When you’re able to show empathy and relate to their feelings (if applicable), the individual will feel that you showed interest in the conversation. If you’re unable to paraphrase, ask clarifying questions to understand the person’s meaning before formulating your response.
Determine the best medium. There’s an appropriate communication channel for certain messages. The next time you have to communicate something to a group of employees, consider the most effective medium to deliver the message.
Try this: If the message could be perceived as negative or possibly misunderstood, communicate the message in person, if not, via phone. Otherwise, other mediums are usually acceptable for more positive news.
Try this: If the message is lengthy and/or complicated, communicate the information in writing with a followup phone call, if needed.
Try this: If the message is quick and simple, usually instant messaging is an appropriate channel.
Consider your audience. Everyone has their own agenda, motives, wants and needs at work. When communicating, consider where the other person is coming from and tailor your message to their needs.
Try this: Before communicating to others (particularly senior leaders), think about: Who am I talking to? What do they need and want to know? What’s the best communication medium for them? What are their potential concerns about my message and how will I respond?
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More resources for inspiration
Life Hacker: Use This Body Language Cheat Sheet to Decode Common Non-Verbal Cues by Adam Dachis
The Muse: 3 Not-So-Obvious Signs Your Communication Skills Might Need Work by Nina Dawdles
Forbes: Four Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills and Why It Matters by Jared Atchison
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott
FYI For Your Improvement by Michael Lombardo & Robert Eichinger - Chapter 49: Presentation Skills
FYI For Your Improvement by Michael Lombardo & Robert Eichinger - Chapter 67: Written Communications
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Hidden Brain: Alan Alda Wants Us to Have Better Conversations by Shankar Vedantam (41m 58s)
Hidden Brain: How Miscommunications Happen by David Greene and Shankar Vedantam (2m 18s)
The School of Greatness: The Art of Listening by Lewis Howes (1h 3 m)
TED Talk: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation by Celeste Headlee (11m 44s)
TED Talk: Reading Minds Through Body Language by Lynne Franklin (11m 58s)
TED Talk: How to Talk so People Want to Listen by Julian Treasure (9m 58s)
TED Talk: Start With Why by Simon Sinek (17m 58s)
TED Talk: The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown (20m 13s)
TED Talk: Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are by Amy Cuddy (20m 56s)
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