Start by reflecting on your own communication style
Get to know yourself and your personal communication style, and try to understand how it relates to others. Perhaps practice business presentations in front of friends or confidants, giving them a chance to ask questions or clarify specific points before bringing the speech or presentation to your team. Avoid vague expressions like “always” or “never,” and pay attention to your own nonverbal cues. Invite questions and participation to ensure everyone is on the same page. Any self-improvement must begin with personal reflection. If we want to improve our communication skills, we need to start digging deep and thinking about how we express ourselves verbally and non-verbally. We also need to be aware of our own biases, so we don’t get triggered by emotional triggers that cloud our judgment and objectivity when talking to others.
Recognize the different types of communication challenges you’re likely to face
Think about how your message might be received by the other party and adjust your communication accordingly. By communicating clearly, you can help avoid misunderstandings and potential conflicts with others. For example, you can check for understanding by asking them to reflect or summarize what they heard and understood. While the process may be the same, high-stakes communications require more planning, reflection, and skill than day-to-day interactions at work. Examples of high-stakes communication events include asking for a raise or presenting a business plan to a venture capitalist. Beyond these events, there have been many moments in our careers where critical conversations are defined as discussions that are not only high-stakes, but also divided and emotionally charged. One of the most consistent pieces of advice from communication professionals is to strive to use “and” rather than “but” when communicating in these situations. Also, be aware of being flexible in your communication style and approach; communication can become most rigid during stressful situations.
Identify the different communication channels you use most often
Three main communication channels are available in ‘physical’ and digital formats. Digital channels range from face-to-face to video conferencing, written memos to email, face-to-face meetings to phone calls. Digital channels retain many of the characteristics of the primary channels, but impact different aspects of each channel in new ways. The choice between analog and digital affects the environment, context, and disruptive factors in the communication process. The most common communication channels in the workplace are email, chat, video conferencing and phone calls. However, there are other, more modern ways of communicating at work. One of the most popular methods is video conferencing, where people video chat without using their personal smartphones or tablets.
Communication skills are abilities you use when giving and receiving different kinds of information. While these skills may be a regular part of your day-to-day work life, communicating in a clear, effective and efficient way is an extremely special and useful skill. Learning from great communicators around you and actively practicing ways to improve your communications over time will certainly support your efforts to achieve various personal and professional goals.