Effective leaders worldwide communicate their goals and intentions through the means of direct, nonverbal, storytelling, digital, and high-stakes communication. And while many leaders differ in strategies and objectives, one skill they often share is that of expressing their goals and intentions through clear, comprehensive communication.
Undoubtedly the world's most commonly used type of communication, direct communication consists of verbal interaction through spoken word expression. Whether face to face or by telephone, direct communication is typically done by everyone every day. However, although it is common, it is not always effective. The following are some techniques to remember when striving to directly communicate effectively, especially in the workplace.
- Exercise Active Listening Skills
Listening to understand is an important part of direct communication. Your delivery is likely to be more effective if you engage your coworker and receive his or her message.
- Make Eye Contact
When possible, meet your coworker's eyes. This allows you to become the sole focal point, establish confidence and reinforce the importance of your message.
Consider every conversation an opportunity to become a better communicator.
Nonverbal communication consists of expressing a message through methods other than speaking. Often accompanying direct communication, many people communicate nonverbally every day without even realizing it. The following are three commonly used methods of nonverbal communication.
- Body Language
Consisting of both body movements and facial expressions, body language can be used to convey a message and to also show that you have processed information presented to you. For example, a smile may serve as a nonverbal symbol of positivity, while folding your arms or deeply sighing may relay negativity toward the people around you. In the workplace, properly identifying body language can aid in better communication with colleagues and lead to a more comfortable work environment.
- Tone of Message
Tone can be utilized to express an opinion or emotion through verbal or written communication. Take the sentence, “I had a meeting with my supervisor today," for example. A speaker may impart a feeling of excitement about the content of the meeting by delivering the statement hurriedly. By delivering the sentence slowly and monotonously, the speaker may be implying that the meeting was negative.
- Emphasis of Words
Like tone, applying emphasis to certain words and phrases allows speakers to clarify a specific message through direct communication. With the proper emphasis, the same statement can have different meanings. For example:
- “I didn't tell Chris about the lunch date." By emphasizing “Chris," the speaker implies that he or she told someone else about the lunch date.
- “I didn't tell Chris about the lunch date." By emphasizing “I," the reader implies that someone else told Chris about the lunch date.
Explaining a complex topic or opinion through direct communication isn't always a simple task. Storytelling communication can often serve as a useful tool in helping your colleague understand your ideas. Through storytelling, you can compare the concept at hand to a more relatable circumstance, allowing him or her to view your idea from a specific perspective. In business, many leaders use this type of communication to establish a company's culture and values. The following are techniques to consider when using storytelling communication.
To be effective, storytelling must involve content that is relevant to the listener. For example, when teaching morals to children, fairy tales prove to be more effective than references to workplace scenarios. However, when explaining a topic to a coworker, an amusing anecdote from your previous work experience may suffice to establish your point.
Use nonverbal communication skills to engage the listener while keeping his or her attention. Ensure the main points are expressed properly through emphasis and that details are provided through facial expressions and body language.
- Establish a Moral
Confirm that your storytelling was effective and that the listener understands your idea. If you're unsure of the effectiveness of your delivery, plan ahead to allow time for questions.
With advancements in technology extending the realm of capabilities, digital communication is rapidly gaining popularity. This type of communication occurs nearly as often as direct and nonverbal communication and involves written communication expressed through digital devices. Email, text messages, instant messages and social media posts are among the most common methods of digital communication. And although you may be familiar with this type of communication, it's important to understand its proper etiquette, especially in the workplace.
- Avoid Misinterpretation
Though fast and convenient, many statements expressed through digital communication can be misconstrued. When using digital communication in the workplace, avoid using all capital letters, emphasis and sarcasm, as these elements of communication can often be misinterpreted. Instead, allow readers to understand your messages by writing clear, straightforward sentences.
- Understand What Is Appropriate
When it comes to communicating digitally with friends and family members, text messaging seems to be the leading method. However, due to data plan restrictions and privacy preferences, many are not comfortable receiving text messages from coworkers on their personal cellphones. For work-related matters, it's best to use company-provided email addresses for digital communication.
- Balance Persistence with Patience
When corresponding through digital communication, providing persistent responses demonstrates your interest in the recipient's message. However, not everyone — especially those in busy workplaces — have the time to offer a quick response to every message. When possible, send important messages early to provide the recipient with plenty of time to respond.
In situations of negotiation, presentation, and confrontation, communication often plays a significant role in the outcome. High-stakes communication is used to deliver information during circumstances that involve conflicting ideas. When using this communication technique to ask for a salary raise, address an error made by a coworker or to present quarterly profits to stockholders, it's important to remember the following tips.
Before engaging in high-stakes communication, ensure you have a full understanding of the topic at hand. For example, before requesting a raise, research should be conducted on the position's average salary and the company's budget.
- Propose a Solution
High-stakes communication often involves addressing disagreements. When a conflict arises, support your argument by offering a solution to the problem. For example, if two coworkers disagree on the methods used to complete a project, propose a compromise to resolve the issue.
When high-stakes communication involves public speaking, it's best to prepare your delivery in advance. Develop your thoughts into statements and practice saying them out loud. For example, an executive who is hosting a meeting about budget cuts is likely to deliver the information more effectively by preparing his or her statements prior to the start of the meeting.
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