Remember, June is Effective Communications Month!
Effective business communication costs very little and the results can transform both you and your business. Communication and interpersonal skills are at the top of the list of what matters most today in leadership.
One of the reasons I'm so passionate about effective communication is because I grew up in Communist Cuba, where there was not freedom of speech. June 10 marked the 48th year anniversary of the day I left so I could be able to speak freely!
Unfortunately, many workplaces feel just like Cuba felt to me. People perceive they can't communicate freely. My mission is to help leaders open safe spaces where effective and open communication can take place.
There are costly communication mistakes that are behind some of the worst problems leaders encounter. By learning to correct them, you will save time and money, your influence will increase, your people will feel free to share their thoughts, and you will have better relationships.
Today I'm going to share the first 3 mistakes and next week the next 4.
Communication mistake 1: Unclear message
This is probably the most common and costly mistake. Two things support clear communications: 1) The way we think, which affects the clarity of our ideas, and 2) The way we talk, which affects the clarity of our expression.
You need to pay attention to your thoughts before opening your mouth. Start with organizing your thoughts around the result you want. What do you want your message to accomplish? For example, you might want to influence your board in getting funding for a project, or talk to a subordinate about closing a client’s account. Whatever it is, it must be crystal clear to you first. You can then organize your thoughts in a logical sequence that will take you to that destination.
When you talk, don’t "beat around the bush." Share your complete idea using simple and direct words. Make sure your words connect with the person or group you are talking to. Reduce the number of words you use to improve clarity of meaning. Don’t leave a thought half finished with an ending like: “you know. . .” or “you can imagine. . .”
Another thing: most people talk too fast. Your message will be clearer if you slow down and make appropriate pauses. Slowing down will also permit you to use more expression and emphasis, further clarifying your message.
Communication mistake 2: Message overload
Listening to a rambling, unorganized leader is tedious and discouraging. State your point of view as briefly and succinctly as possible. You want to establish a dialogue, not deliver a monologue.
Don’t try to convince others of the correctness of your views by smothering them with words. Don’t let your conversation become repetitious, leading nowhere. Instead, choose your words with the intent of making your message as clear as possible, avoiding jargon and unnecessary information. Ask more open questions, invite and welcome the ideas of others, and by being brief, leave time and space for listening to the voices of others.
Communication mistake 3: Not listening
Many leaders listen only to their own voices, ending up badly informed and, therefore, ill prepared to deal with issues that later can become huge problems. They interrupt others, thinking they “save” time, since they already “know” what the other person is going to say. Sadly, this leads to many misunderstandings. Time spent listening might have headed off such disasters.
Listening is more than hearing the words the other person is saying. It requires a desire to understand another human being, an attitude of respect and acceptance, and a willingness to open your mind to try and see things from the other’s viewpoint.
Listening requires a high level of concentration and energy. You need to set aside your own thoughts and agendas. It’s trying to see the world through the other person's eyes. True listening requires suspending judgment, evaluation, and approval in an attempt to understand the frame of reference of the other person, their emotions, and attitudes. Listening to understand is, indeed, a difficult but rewarding task!
Remember. . .
Effective business communication is the glue that holds organizations together. Don't make costly mistakes.
If you want a FREE short, practical Infographic Guide on what to do and not to do for effective communication, you can ask for it in the button below.