Communication should be an inside out approach, getting communication in the organisation to optimum levels before managing external communication. So much information in the workplace is shared informally (at the coffee station, in the lift and at the smoking spot) that is often inaccurate. If efficient formal structures were in place and communication from the leader was timeous and transparent, rumours and insecurity would be decreased. Every audit we have ever done in a company before instituting a performance management model has exposed inefficient communication being a major cause of negative issues. Sometimes small changes like starting a conversation by using someone’s name or using “we” more than “I” can improve your personal communication style.
The most powerful act of communication can be silence – saying absolutely nothing at all, nodding your head, putting your hand on a colleague’s arm or merely smiling. Allowing for a pause allows for someone to understand and process what you are saying, and as we all process at different speeds, it is vital to allow for the pause.
What can you do to become a better communicator?
- Negate noise pollution and enjoy the opportunity of listening to your inner voice, your intuition. It is a tool that needs to be finely tuned so that you can use it to best advantage. Your inner voice builds up a vocabulary that allows you to read between the lines. Sometimes you will know what a situation needs by listening to your gut. Use your instinct, trust it and you will then use it well.
- What goes on tour needs to stay on tour. Learn to keep your own counsel unless you are discussing a matter of confidentiality with someone you really trust. Check facts and figures before stating them to anyone. Respect confidential information when it is shared with you. Know that there is a time and place for discussing business – and crowded coffee shops are not the spots to be sharing information with everyone looking and listening in.
- Listening is an art, a quality that is sometimes taken for granted. Someone may hear what you are saying, but are they really listening and absorbing? We hear and interpret individually, so take the time to check that you have been understood. Listening demonstrates respect. If you do not listen, your followers will find someone else to listen to, show respect to and to believe in them.
Make time to listen because learning is always greater when you listen. Make your motto for this week ‘listen and learn’.