The ability to communicate effectively in business is crucial, but very few leaders possess this vital skill. They may be great at talking, but that holds no value if their messages are unclear, communicated in the wrong way, and misunderstood or misinterpreted by the intended audience. To be a good leader, you must give careful consideration to what you are trying to say, the way you are saying it and the words you use. This will enable you to transfer information in a clear, controlled and purposeful way in all interactions and across all channels of communication.
However, focusing solely on oneself is not enough - communication is a two-way process. You need to be able to connect positively with the people you are trying to lead, rather than simply talking ‘at’ them. This requires knowledge, so you will need to possess exceptional listening skills and be astute in your observations of other people within a variety of contexts and situations. Failure to understand those with whom you are trying to communicate will make it incredibly challenging to guide, inspire and motivate them effectively.
So, how does one master the art of communication? It’s pretty easy. Just take on board these five simple tips and you’ll be communicating confidently and effectively in no time at all.
1. Be specific
Clarity is vital. Vague, ambiguous and overly-complicated messages can be easily misconstrued and will likely result in utter confusion. Your communication should be clear and concise at all times. You want to get to the important point of the message as quickly as possible, so avoid using complicated terminology and superfluous information that may conceal or detract from the key elements. A lot of unnecessary resources will be wasted in an attempt to analyze, clarify and understand your message. In business and life in general, time is of the essence. Use it wisely.
2. Remain consistent
The information you provide to others must be consistent across the board and should align with your company’s vision and aims. If you chop and change your mind all the time and send conflicting messages, confusion and chaos will surely ensue. Consistency in communication leads to consistency in all operations and activities carried out by, and on behalf of, the business. When everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, as it were, all parts of the company will move in the one (and intended) direction. This is what you’re aiming for unless you’re actually trying to tank the business.
3. Stop talking and listen
To be an effective leader, you need to know and understand your team. This requires less talking (on your part) and more listening. You need to engage with other people, have sincere conversations, listen to them, and demonstrate that you actually care about more than just targets and the bottom line. People are more inclined to communicate openly and honestly with those they trust. But in order to establish trust, you need to form meaningful relationships built on mutual respect and understanding - this cannot be achieved through one-sided, impersonal, corporate communication.
4. Know your stuff
Be confident in your knowledge of something before attempting to convey information to others. If you don’t fully understand what you’re trying to achieve or what you’re trying to say, it’s unlikely anyone else with. And you certainly won’t garner much respect or credibility if your knowledge is lacking. You’re the leader, so you’re expected to direct and inspire others through the sharing of accurate information and professional expertise. To be able to do this, you need to know your stuff.
5. Hone your perception skills
Great leaders have a highly developed sense of awareness. They understand what is going on around them in a variety of situations, and they can read non-verbal cues, such as tone and pitch of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, body language and the physical distance between subjects. However, it’s also important to consider these non-verbal behaviors in context and interpret them accordingly. External factors, such as environment and individual personalities, can play a large part in the meaning and interpretation of certain actions at different times. This is why it’s crucial to know your team, establish trust, and develop meaningful working relationships that make you an approachable leader, a great listener, and an effective communicator.