Habits of Amazing Communicators
When it comes to communication, we can all learn to do it better. Corporate Coach Lea McLeod joined us to share some basics about communication that seem to trip most people up. She says to identify the ones that you need to work on, and start moving them into your conversation skill set today.
Stop Saying “But” and Start Saying “And”
Instead, use “and:” “I love that idea, and I think a slightly different approach would be most effective.” Hear the difference?
In her book Bossypants, Tina Fey breaks down the rules of improv. One of those rules is to always say “yes, and….” This shows respect for what your partner has to say (even if you don’t agree), helps you keep an open mind about the act, and invites you to contribute to the conversation by building on the other person’s idea or adding your own ideas. Same goes for communicating at work.
Stick With the Facts
Remember that the facts of any issue could be quite different from your perception of it. Maybe the way you see a situation has to do with your unique work style, or simply that your boss is totally stressed out and taking it out on you. No matter what, unless you have the facts, it’s best to refrain from color commentary and focus on getting to the root of the issue.
Instead of having a meaningful dialogue about what defines each of their observations, Megan gets frustrated because Jason “isn’t hearing her.” And Jason thinks Megan sounds like a broken record, going on about how overwhelmed she is. That’s not communication. That’s position defending.
Great communicators, on the other hand, ask questions and strive to understand all sides of the issue—instead of constantly repeating their side of the story. For example, Jason might say, “What parts of the project are overwhelming to you?” or, “Tell me more about what you’re seeing as the bottlenecks.” And Megan might say, “It sounds like we have completely different views on the project. I’m wondering if additional hours will really solve the problems I see,” or “Should we review the scope of the project and make sure the additional hours are realistic for the resources we have?” Do you see how simply exploring others’ ideas can help you rise above your frustration and get you to higher ground?
Use Silence as Strategically as You Use Words
So, the next time you’re in a dialogue and it deserves your full attention, find an opportunity to practice silence. Spend a few extra moments absorbing what’s been said and intentionally thinking through your response before you speak. Learn to value and leverage those moments of silence instead of fearing them—as a way to build a better dialogue.
Actively Engage the Other Point of View
In short, just because you say something, it doesn’t mean that others hear you. Great communicators take time to understand where others are coming from, whether it’s influenced by cultural, professional, or personal factors. Once you understand those differences, you can communicate in a way that enhances your ability to be heard.
For more information about taking back your work life,visit Lea's website.