Companies spend millions of dollars seeking ways to improve their bottom-line. Many companies have yet to realize that improving communication skills, which is too often termed as a “soft skill,” is one of the most effective ways to improve productivity. Good communication involves both sending and receiving messages and it can break down on either or both ends. Effective communication is a critical link between core functions of business and is often telling of successful performance. Three skills employers can teach their employees on how to become effective communicators are clarity, appropriate medium and listening.
The Art of Clarity
Managers spend about two-thirds of their work day engaged in written or oral communication. Today, when time is a rare commodity, clear and concise communication is crucial. Often, costly mistakes and misunderstandings occur when message senders don’t understand what they are trying to say. It is very important for employees to understand what the goal is and then accurately articulate that goal to others. One way of doing this is to teach employees how to define the objectives of a written or oral communication by constantly asking themselves – What they want the listener to know? It is also wise to understand that not everything needs to be spoken. Understanding the importance of adopting filters in communication can avoid many disasters.
The Art of Knowing
The changing environment and increasing complexity of the workplace allows messages to be conveyed in many different ways. Technology is wonderful. We can now communicate through telephones, emails, SMS, texts, person to person, Skype and video conferencing just to name a few. However, sometimes our choices are not always appropriate for the recipient or the message. The art of knowing how your information should be conveyed is one of the key components in becoming an effective communicator. Teaching employees how to consider the audience, the complexity and the sensitivity of the information they wish to convey, will help decide how it is best communicated. For instance, using email doesn’t interrupt your recipient. It also eliminates telephone tag. Email is a great way for relaying non-urgent information. On the other hand, email has its problems. It can be lost in the recipients other email, or in a spam folder or can be returned undeliverable.
The Art of Listening
Usually the best and easiest way of resolving conflict in the workplace is just to listen to both sides. We often don’t remember that listening is just as important as speaking. Learning how to become a good listener is half the battle of becoming an effective communicator. Companies that hone employees listening skills enable them to ask the right questions that all too often can uncover hidden agendas or what is really important to a client. Increasingly, companies are forming groups and teams to complete projects, enhancing employees listening skills is crucial to the success of the team. One way to enhance listening skills is practice rephrasing or repeating a co-workers communication.