Communication is the backbone of leadership and business. It takes effective communication to make sure that what is being communicated is received the right way. Often, it is miscommunication that is the downfall of a relationship, whether that is professional or personal.
Communication is a dialogue, and not a monologue. It is a two way street where messages are sent back and forth between the speaker and listener. Listening is as important as the words being said, but I’ll leave that for a different day.
The one thing we miss in communicating is deciding which mode of communication is going to be most effective. Oral and written communication have been around forever. Electronic communication, email, text messages, and apps like Slack, provide another mode of communication that is both helpful and harmful if not used correctly.
How many of you are guilty for sending an email instead of walking down to your co-workers office two doors down? I have done that before. It wasted more time and energy to go back and forth via email than it would have if I had chosen to have the conversation face to face. When we talk face to face, we communicate with our words, tone, and body language. We give a fuller picture of what we are communicating and limit the amount of “noise” limiting the communication.
Communication “noise” is any wanted signals that interrupt the original communicators message. This can be from the mode of communication, the lack of listening, or even a cultural difference in communication.
Here are 4 tips to help you be an effective communicator:
1. Avoid information overload.
This occurs when the amount of information presented exceeds the persons ability to process it. This happens often in organizations. Make sure to not present too much material. Don’t present information that is overly complex. Don’t present information too quickly. Remember, you are giving this information to your people for the first time most likely. Think of how you processed the information in the beginning and present the information in a way that would have helped you understand the best.
2. Keep your emotions in check.
Letting your emotions get in the way can hinder the message you are trying to send. Consider your emotional state and the emotional state of the person you are communicating with. If you are both upset, then make sure you choose your words wisely. Best advice here is to always stop and think before communicating.
3. Establish trust and credibility.
Effective communication hinges on this. Lack of credibility and trust is a barrier to effective communication. When trust is in place, you know that what is being communicated is true and when credibility is in place, the listener can fully receive the message being sent. Be trustworthy.
4. Avoid mixed messages.
Make sure that all modes of communication are congruent. What you say is what you write in an email. Your body language and tone should be congruent with the actual words coming out of your mouth. Avoiding mixed messages can help with trust and credibility.
Take some time to evaluate your communication skills. What can you put in place to be a more effective communicator?
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Stephanie German is a leadership coach and consultant, author, and adjunct professor. She holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and loves giving back to her community in a variety of ways. When she’s not coaching clients or writing about leadership, Stephanie is usually headed to the mountains or the beach with her family, drinking savory wine, or working on the latest project with her husband. Stephanie’s greatest desires are to raise up the next generation of leaders while raising her own children to be strong, independent, and brave. She lives in Fresno, California with her husband Blake and her three spunky daughters, Cara, Kinsey, and Peyton. She is the best-selling author of So Your Boss Can’t Lead?