Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication skills are a critical component of a leader.  Leaders must be able to articulate their message in a clear and professional manner to work towards full understanding.

Active listening requires the focused listening to what a person is saying.  The speaker’s words must be heard, appropriately interpreted, and be confirmed as understood.  Active listening requires the conscious effort to convey interest in a person’s words and encourage the expansion of the main points.  Active listening does not involve snap judgments or arguments with the other person’s position.   The listener should focus intently on the speaker while he or she talks and not judge what he or she is saying.  Once the speaker has explained his or herself fully without having to worry about argument, the listener should restate the speaker’s words in the listener’s own words to ensure the listener understands what the speaker meant.  The speaker then feels as though the listener truly heard what the speaker had to say.

Words should be effective and chosen to accurately reflect what is meant.  They must be clear and unambiguous, as well as polite, professional, and inoffensive.  They should not rely on tone of voice or facial expression to properly convey the meaning and should not assume that the other person can follow the speaker’s train of thought.   Take the time and effort to ensure the clarity of a message.  Avoiding poor word choices includes avoiding vague or unclear words or phrases, slang, made-up terms, jargon, foreign terms not in common usage, and inappropriate used religious terms.

Feedback is the constructive response given to another person regarding their work, ideas, and / or performance.  Helpful feedback is an informed suggestion as to what could be done to improve or further excel.  It should focus on the work rather than be judgmental as to the person.  Feedback is most helpful when it is requested, and when the one providing the feedback has relevant expertise on the subject matter.

Overcommunication is providing more information about work than is absolutely necessary.  For a leader, overcommunication can be a good thing.  Transparency in work life helps keep everyone involved.  A leader should openly share details about projects and ensure other people understand the decision making process as well as the progress of the project.  Overcommunication becomes helpful when it prevents anyone in a work group from needing to wonder about work status or chase down an answer.

Avoid sarcasm.   Sarcasm obscures real meaning, and dilutes the message by distracting from what is actually being said.  Sarcasm can close down lines of communication and eliminate the opportunity for discussion.

Listen:

  • Pay close attention when others speak
  • Rephrase and repeat to verify understanding
  • Take responsibility to ensure understanding rather than relying on the speaker to clarify
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Use effective listening with everyone to ensure understanding of what is needed and to encourage others to that they are heard.

Clarity:

  • Make effective word choices – Polite, professional, and appropriate
  • Tell the truth, but tell it nicely, ensuring that words accurately reflect meaning
  • Avoid regional terms, slang, made-up words, inside jokes, unknown foreign terms, or religious terms used inappropriately
  • Think twice before speaking, taking a moment to collect your thoughts if necessary
  • Reread emails before sending, reviewing for clarity

Feedback:

  • Don’t criticize the work of others unless it is requested or in a management position that is specifically tasked with providing performance feedback.
  • Provide a balanced view, offering positive comments as well as negative
  • Offer specific ideas for improvement.  Suggestions should be practical.
  • Provide clear explanations to support the feedback position
  • Share success stories
  • Ensure feedback is grounded in work or performance rather than in personal judgment.

Overcommunication

  • Give more information that absolutely necessary
  • Be very clear in all communications and answer questions fully
  • Be transparent in work life, openly sharing details on projects and progress with all team members.
  • Explain the decision making process to others
  • Let people know where you can be found and what you are doing to ensure no one has to wonder about your work status or chase you down for answers.

© 2011, Within this mind. All rights reserved.

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About Kinda Strange

I am a student at the University of Phoenix majoring in information technology. This is where I come to babble incoherently…err…make notes, talk about things that catch my interest, share ideas, etc...
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