How To Improve Communication Skills For Workplace Success
You probably have that one colleague you can’t help but admire. When he walks into the room, everyone notices. When he speaks, all conversations stop. His presentation skills can put the best to shame. You can never quite put your fingers on why he stands out. It could be about his mannerisms. His self-confidence and ability to command respect are noteworthy. Unfortunately, the reverse is true for you. Speaking in front of people is a nightmarish experience. You stutter, mumble, and cannot meet anyone’s eyes. You would rather stand in the corner than have anyone notice you. Here is some good news. There are specific steps you can take to change the situation. It is as simple as finding the right tools and tips to improve your communication skills.
1. Revert To The Two Ears, One Mouth Adage
Your parents probably told you this when growing up. You have two ears to listen better and one mouth to respond less. At the time, it may have made no sense. But, it is an invaluable piece of advice to have in life. You may have realized that good communicators are excellent listeners. They do not listen to respond; they listen to understand first. Allow people to finish what they are saying before you jump in with a response. Think about it like chewing a piece of meat. ‘Chew’ the information thoroughly before swallowing. Sounds silly, right? Maybe, but it works.
2. Yes, Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks
We want to dispel the whole myth about old dogs and them not learning new tricks. So, you have a Master’s degree in Engineering. Congratulations, but you struggle with communicating your brilliant ideas. You find you are stuck in one position, and promotions seem to pass you by. Other people take credit for your work because they have the gift of garb. Well, it is time to teach yourself some new tricks. Enrolling in assertiveness and communication skills training is something to consider. Such developmental training courses will give you some fantastic skills. Learn how to stand up for yourself and communicate with clarity and calmness.
3. Audiences Determine How You Communicate
Think about the times you have had to speak to a group of managers. Now, do the same for conversations with colleagues. You adopt a more informal style and attitude with the latter. If you have to do a presentation, start by researching the audience. When you know them a little, you will feel more relaxed.
4. Nonverbal Cues Say A Lot
You walk into a room. Your body is tense, and you keep flexing your fingers. You nervously chew on your pen and can’t look anyone in the eyes. Soon, like a bad cold, that energy will spread. The audience starts to focus more on your non-verbal cues. It can be difficult to master your body gestures and facial reactions. But, the best poker players have, well, poker faces. While we are not saying be impossible to read, don’t display your emotions too much.
In the same breath, observe the nonverbal cues from the audiences. You get to know who they are reacting to what you are saying. Are they leaning forward, listening attentively? If yes, it shows you are exciting and engaging. Are they slouching or looking like the wall color is the most exciting thing they have ever seen? It means they are losing interest, and you need to do something quickly.
5. Fake It Till You Make It; If That Is What It Comes Down To
You may not be feeling very confident. But, no one knows this fact other than you. Those people who exude confidence may admit that their insides were like jelly when presenting or addressing others. But, they have mastered how to appear self-confident. Here are some things to do to appear more assertive.
Carry yourself with some sense of self-assurance. Back straight, head held high, shoulders back, spine straight
Approach people with a smile – you appear trustworthy and relatable
Maintain eye contact when having a conversation. Always look at the person speaking. It shows you are listening and paying attention.
Shake hands confidently. Okay, maybe not in this Corona pandemic period. But, there is something about a firm handshake that speaks confidence.
Maintain personal distance without appearing stand-offish
Do not isolate yourself in social situations. Join your colleagues and participate in conversations. Of course, only offer an opinion if you are sure of the facts.
Dress and groom well.
6. Practice Like Crazy
Use your mirror for something other than looking at yourself. One of the best things you can do is practice how to communicate. Let’s say you are going in for a business presentation. The best slides will never make up for poor delivery. Stand in front of the mirror and pretend you are in a roomful of people. We all have that family member or friend who never sugarcoats. Get that person into a room and practice in front of them. Ask them to be brutally honest about what you need to work on. Take the criticism and change what you need to.
7. Simplify Your Messaging
Have you ever talked to someone, and you have no idea what they are talking about. You may very well be guilty of the same thing. When communicating, aim for clarity. Use simple to understand language and examples. Avoid information overload. We all know those presentations that have you nodding off in minutes. Inject a touch of humor without being crass. Use stories rather than hard-to-understand data to keep your audiences interested.
8. Blend In, Don’t Try Too Hard To Stand Out
You know that colleague who talks and laughs the loudest. Every conversation has to revolve around them. They have an opinion on everything and nothing. Their conversations are full of I, I, I, and how great they are. Describe in one word how you feel when you see him approaching. Good communicators blend in and only give input when necessary.
Your struggle with how to communicate should no longer hold you back. With the right training, you can learn some very useful skills. Also, read widely, practice, and watch how others do it. You can checkout best online training courses from top universities world-wide.