Communication as defined by the dictionary is an instance of information transfer; a conversation, a message, or discourse. It is the state of exchanging data or information between two or more parties.
Effective communication is needed in all areas of life — the workplace (managing employees and employees interaction), coordinating a team of volunteers, and/or in family settings. The success of these areas of life is strongly dependent on the patterns and effectiveness of the communication methods adopted. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to be good leaders without being a good communicator. The reason is because, it is the act of communication that enables the leader to engage, inspire and motivate his people. If a leader cannot effectively communicate his vision, values and strategies, then his leadership is bound to fail.
This article is aimed at outlining six (6) steps to building effective communication skills that leaders can master to improve their relationships with people, motivate and boost the morale of their team, which in turn, leads to enhanced team performance.
All good communicators have mastered the act of self-awareness. They know themselves well, their temperament and emotional strength. They know when to raise or lower their tone of voice. They’ve been able to master this skill through “inner monologue”, that is, the act of speaking to oneself so as to be able to masterfully reveal their thoughts to their audience.
This is important because, the speaker’s intention could be misunderstood if the wrong tone of voice is used. The speaker may even be seen as either lacking confidence, discriminatory, disrespectful and/or proud.
A good communicator always pays attention to his audience whenever he is speaking. He pays close attention to the atmosphere of his audience, their actions and reactions at every instance. He takes note when his audiences are not following or are distracted. He quickly tries to understand and fix the problem.
Good communicators pay close attention to genuine personal connections; this puts people at ease, allays fear and builds trust and rapport.
Good communicators are direct, specific and clear with their speech. They avoid unnecessary jargons that makes their speech uninteresting, with high tendency to be misunderstood. They tactfully go straight to the point, depending on the situation.
The danger here is that, it becomes possible to be too direct and hence, become blunt or insensitive to the audience. If a speech becomes too concise, it may leave room for misunderstanding of the intended message. To avoid this, strategic regular repetitions may be made to ensure clarity.
Good communicators don’t just end a speech until they are sure that they are understood. They are as clear and simple as possible.
Effective communicators and leaders alike understand that body language in speaking is just as important as the speech itself. Posture, eye contact, facial expressions and movement of the hand all play vital roles in affirming or demeaning your message.
During a speech or conversation with people, it is important we align our body language with the discussion. An appropriate gesture helps to make the point clear; poor mannerism demeaning a message, while proper gesture builds trust.
Communication is a two-way thing — from the speaker to the audience, and the audience to speaker.
A speaker’s job is not only to speak but also to really listen, actively, in order to understand the feedback from the discussion. Active listening goes beyond mere hearing and attention, but also includes asking relevant follow up questions for questions, confirmation and affirmation. This practice builds rapport and improves the relationship and understanding between the communicating parties.
Communicators must also pay to listening to really understand and not merely to reply or defend. Good communicators are open-minded to accept input without being defensive, with the right intention of not just trying to win an argument.
Holding position and status over people are what leaders avoid during communication. They avoid being too authoritative without considering the feelings of others. They never make use of fear or coercion to motivate their audience. Instead, they focus on being positive, open minded and ego-less.
When leaders consider people’s feelings during communication, they use the right words and show consideration to people’s emotional need, thus helping to improve the morale of their people, this in turn, improves the overall productivity of the people.
In all, the level of understanding of every individual is their responsibility but it is the leader’s duty to make himself understandable in every situations and set of circumstances. Practicing these skills will help to improve the leader’s effectiveness, thus enhancing the productivity of the people.
The book below: Building a High-Performing Team: Team Management Tools & Techniques, shares practical techniques team leaders and members can apply to improve their team spirit.