You may not know, but this month is acknowledged as Effective Communications Month. Because communication and effectively communicating is something I’m passionate about, I want to dedicate a whole blog post to it this week.
In Social+Emotional Intelligence, the competency of Communication is in the Relationship Management Quadrant within the Four Quadrant Model designed by the Institute for Social+Emotional Intelligence® (ISEI).
ISEI® defines Communication as, “listening deeply and openly and sending clear, credible, convincing messages." Note that listening comes before speaking in the definition as it should in reality too.
In my over 20 years in leadership and navigating various personal relationships, I can tell you without a doubt that when I committed to being a better communicator, my relationships, whether work or personal, benefited.
As in most things, communication requires skill on all sides for it to be truly effective. You can be the best listener, but if the person you are listening to does not reciprocate, it makes it much harder to really communicate.
The same applies if you are the person speaking. If you’re not letting anyone respond or if you are getting cut off by an over-talker, it doesn’t feel effective to either party.
During the 2nd quarter, our theme has been Empower Your Beliefs. Today, I want to challenge you to empower your beliefs about who you are as a communicator. Because evaluating our beliefs about anything should start with a reality check, let’s begin by asking ourselves if we do the listening part of communication effectively.
Here a few questions you can answer to help you decide if you are a good listener:
Do I interrupt others while they are speaking?
Do I give them my full attention?
Do I listen deeply for what they are trying to communicate?
Do I observe body language while another is speaking?
Do I refrain from assuming what the other person will say or finish their statements for them?
How did you do? What’s the reality? Are you a good listener or did you quickly identify that you have an opportunity to work on your listening skills?
Now let’s shift to how well you convey your thoughts and are clear in your message. Consider the following questions:
Do I get to the point?
Is my tone inviting or engaging?
Do I note the body language of those that are listening to me?
Do I ask questions to seek to understand others and clarify my understanding?
Am I considerate when expressing my opinions?
How did you do? What’s the reality? Are you able to effectively convey your message while your audience feels reciprocated during communication?
Now that you’ve evaluated your listening and messaging skills, what can you start, stop, or continue doing to improve your effectiveness as a communicator? With this simple evaluation, I hope you can see the direct impact working to improve your skill as a communicator can have on both your personal and work relationships.
Going beyond our face-to-face interactions, we should also pause to assess how well we communicate in email. Driven by the amount of work done out of the office, the pace of work, and the fact that email is often the primary way we communicate with our work colleagues, the tone and word choices we make in email can have a big impact on our work relationships.
Here are a few tips and things to consider that can improve your email communication:
Include a subject line – help the receiver prioritize and locate your email more effectively.
Avoid ALL CAPS – do you intend to have the reader feel like you’re yelling at them?
Avoid Reply All – does the entire audience need your reply?
Consider the amount of content – too much for an email?
Are my points clear? Can you substitute full sentences with bullets?
Consider the topic of your email – Would a phone call be more effective?
Whether we are communicating in-person or in writing, with a friend or during a work meeting, or by email, the skill you have in effective communication will be apparent. Take what you have learned from the brief evaluations above to determine where you can improve and plan.
Your plan to improve your communication skill could be to join an organization that helps you improve as a speaker and leader such as Toastmasters, where both your listening and speaking skill is honed. I’ve found my Toastmasters club to be highly beneficial to try out new material I want to present or work on my ability to think on my feet through the extemporaneous speaking skill acquired via Table Topics.
If your work requires sending lots of emails, have a trusted colleague read drafts of important messages. You can also practice pumping the brakes on sending email messages when you are heated or hurried. Unless it’s important and urgent, most emails can wait a few hours or more before you respond if you must respond in email regarding a request or topic that you find difficult.
Empower yourself to pursue becoming a more effective communicator. You’ll be rewarded with improved relationships as a result.
What tips do you have to improve communication? Share in the comments below by becoming a site member.