Communicating clearly is an essential skill for successful professional and personal relationships. Communication is more than just the ability to share and exchange information; it is how we process information and represent ourselves to the outside world.
Professionally there are four areas that we need to be able to communicate clearly.
- Public speaking
As leaders, we must guide, instruct, and motivate our teams to reach their goals. A good leader not only leads but inspires. While some are born with natural charisma to lead, many of us have to learn how to lead and find the balance between being a strong leader and being authentic and relatable.
Communication allows us to connect with our colleagues and build our professional relationships. Everyone in a leadership role should have the skills to be assertive when the situation calls for it but also have the soft skills needed to create a connection.
And of course, public speaking is often required in professional settings, and it is a struggle for many. The number one fear, according to Psychology Today, is public speaking. The simple act of standing in front of others and talking causes more fear than sharks, alligators, and even death.
So how do you combine all of these skills? How do you improve your communication skills to become excellent leaders, communicators, public speakers, and sales professionals?
The answer is to focus on learning how to develop your communication skills and ensure you are able to get your point across clearly and understand others to build mutual respect and connection.
Not being able to clearly and effectively communicate is the root cause of misunderstandings in the workplace. Misunderstandings affect everyone and, at best, create a difficult work environment. At worst, they can cost a company sales, profits, and employee turnover.
Communication skills are tricky, and finding the right balance of professionalism and authenticity is challenging. I have put together my top five ways to improve communication skills. As an expert communication coach, these are the five most important skills to master to start communicating clearly today.
1. Active Listening
Active listening is an important soft skill that everyone should know how to do. It is characterized by actively engaging with the speaker. It differs from passive listening, where the listener is not expected to contribute, for example, when listening to a lecture.
When you are actively listening, you will
- Use body language to show you are listening
- Ask questions to clarify
- Use sounds like mmh or uh huh to demonstrate following along
- Paraphrase information to confirm details understanding & details
Active listening is a simple skill that anyone can master. When you are actively listening, you are showing respect for the other person and building trust, understanding, and empathy. Being an active listener creates a dialogue between the speaker and the listener; you are showing the speaker that you respect their ideas and point of view while engaging in a thoughtful manner.
2. Practicing Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is defined as being self-aware and aware of how your emotions and behaviors affect those around you. A person with high emotional intelligence is able to control their emotions and think through a situation without losing control. We all have emotions that we need to work through, but when you are emotionally intelligent, you are able to identify your emotions, and instead of reacting to the situation, you are able to make clear assessments and find solutions. Signs of high emotional intelligence are:
- Empathy for others
- Being open to new ideas and learning new things
- Ability to accept feedback
- Ability to apologize and accept responsibility
- Recognize social cues and body language
Practicing emotional intelligence is as easy as being mindful and in the moment when engaging with others. When you demonstrate to others that you care and are invested in them by listening and showing empathy, you can develop your emotional intelligence.
3. Engaging in Civil Discourse
Civil discourse is important for many reasons. It allows us to better understand each other, finds common ground, and resolve conflict. If both sides of a conversation are well aware of civil discourse terms, they will be more likely to be effective communicators and lead a fruitful discussion. There are many benefits to civil discourse, but the three listed above are some of the most important. When we engage in civil discourse, we improve our communication skills, build relationships, and resolve conflict.
4. Observing Others
Observing others gives you clues about what the other person is actually feeling and what is driving them. Often times people are unable to express their feelings about a situation. Or they do not feel safe and supported in sharing their thoughts and feelings in the workplace. By having a keen eye and observing behaviors, you can identify emotional intelligence and empathy in others. Observing others allows you to see what someone is not saying. You can use social cues like body language and eye contact or lack thereof to gain perspective and understand other people’s communication styles and how to connect with them.
Observing others gives you valuable insight into how the person reacts to different situations. Do they get angry or frustrated when a deadline is pushed back? Do they raise their voice or avoid conversation when a colleague makes a mistake? Do they speak poorly about their teammates? Do they avoid certain colleagues or have trouble connecting with others? Understanding how others think, act, and think through situations can help leaders align with their teams and have critical conversations.
5. Speak Intentionally
Have you ever had a conversation with a colleague that left you confused? Maybe you asked a yes or no question and sat through a ten-minute explanation and, in the end, still didn’t know if it was a yes or a no. People often give too much unnecessary information. They may have good intentions and want to share all the details, but in the end, it is information overload, and the listener cannot comprehend the main idea.
Speaking intentionally means speaking in a way that allows people to absorb what you’re saying. You want to ensure that people understand not only your words but the meaning behind those words. Let me repeat that, you want people to understand the correct meaning without rambling on so fast that they grasp every other word, making misunderstandings inevitable. If you can make clear points with clear intentions, then communication will flow.
Speaking intentionally doesn’t mean you have to write out what you want to say. It just means ensuring you are providing relevant information from which the other party will benefit. If you struggle with staying on topic, try the PREP method for organizing your ideas. The PREP method, created by author Brian Tracy, is defined as
- Point – make your point.
- Reason – support your point with reason.
- Example – give an example or two to support your point.
- Point – conclude by restating your point.
Any topic can fit into the PREP model, making it the perfect way to organize your thoughts and express them effectively.
6. Restate in Your Own Words
Paraphrasing what someone has said is an excellent way to ensure you understand the meaning. It is all too common in today’s world of distractions that we are only half listening or multi-tasking instead of focusing on the speaker. Rewording what you were told helps clarify that the information is correct, saving time later. This technique is especially important when following instructions or a series of steps. It only takes a second to repeat in your own words the information back to the speaker, giving them a chance to correct or reiterate any key points or information.
In addition, paraphrasing is an excellent way to show that you are actively listening and helps you identify any gaps in understanding. It is a concrete way to show respect to the speaker and build trust and rapport by demonstrating that you care about what they are saying.
As an expert communication coach, I have worked with many individuals throughout the years, and the first step to clear and effective communication starts with
- Active listening
- Observing others
- Emotional intelligence
- Speaking intentionally
I guarantee that focusing on these five ways to improve your communication skills will lead you to better professional and personal relationships.
If you want to learn more about how to improve your communication skills visit my website at Dr.Weber Coaching to learn more about how I can help you upgrade your communication skills to move forward in your career.
DR Weber is an expert business communication trainer, helping well over 2000 happy students learn how to communicate more effectively with their teams, improve their public speaking skills, helping sales professionals communicate more effectively with customers and prospects. Consulting and assisting corporate professionals to get the most out of their negotiations.