Ever notice that some people seem to have a knack for getting the best out of those around them, while others seem to go from creating misunderstanding to snafu to lost opportunity? The difference might be as simple as a lack of strong communication skills.
Start with the little things
You might think small talk is a waste of time, but it’s part of day-to-day socializing. It’s the beginning of getting to know people. Through those small daily interactions you’ll find out that Jen’s husband has gone back to school, you’ll know when it’s time to encourage Sanjar in his quest to run his first marathon.
What you learn through that small talk will help you form relationships and bonds with the people you work with. Not only are you getting to know them better, you’re building an atmosphere of trust and camaraderie.
Listen with your ears and your eyes
Pay attention to the body language of the person you’re speaking to. Are they engaged with what you’re saying or are they distracted?
If you don’t have their full attention, your communications are not hitting the mark. Are your instructions unclear? Is there something going on with them that needs to be addressed? Is there a problem with what you’re asking them to do? You cannot guess the answers to these questions, so ask.
Sometimes if you’re busy it might be tempting to be distracted by a screen or a piece of paper in front of you while giving instructions to someone. That’s a shortcut to giving the same instructions again later. If you want someone to understand what you’re saying you need to give them your full attention. If you expect them to respect you then start by respecting their time and presence.
Ultimately you want to get things done. That shouldn’t mean they have to get done in exactly the way you suggested if there’s a better way. You need to make sure that people understand you want them to come to you with questions and suggestions. Communication is a two way street. Being heard and listening are equally important.
With strong communication skills you’ll be able to ensure things get things done right, the first time!