Maybe it’s because I studied public relations or because my family is extremely social, but communication has always been an important aspect of my life. As I started the next chapter of my life in college, traveling to different states for multiple internships and experiencing more than my little bubble in Dallas, one thing became extremely apparent. Communication is more important than we even realize.
All great leaders, in every industry, have one thing in common: they are effective communicators. Not only do they know how to communicate with a diverse group of people, but how to tailor their communication to their audience. In addition, many issues can be avoided or resolved with authentic communication.
How is someone expected to guide, inspire and motivate others if they do not communicate clearly, effectively and authentically? I have had experience in both managing teams and being managed by leaders with different styles. Here are a few tips I learned so far about how to become an effective communicator.
Listen with your eyes and ears
As Elvis said, “stop, look and listen”. Effective communication is not only about speaking or writing, but about being a superb listener. Good leaders listen with their eyes and ears, they read between the lines. Don’t just focus on what is being said, but how the message is being delivered. Nonverbal cues are just as important and sometimes body language can tell you how someone is really feeling versus what they are saying.
Emotional intelligence is important
Emotional intelligence is an overlooked aspect of communication. Lucky for everyone, it is a skill that can be learned and mastered. Deciphering the body language of another person is a big part in understanding their emotions. The first step is to analyze your own emotions and how to best communicate them to the other person. How would you react to the same situation? Do you understand why they are reacting to a situation in that particular way? How would you want to be treated if you were in that situation? The key to emotional intelligence is to empathize with the other person.
Find your own voice and keep it 100
We have heard this cliché over and over since we were kids: be yourself. This reigns true when it comes to effectively communicating with others as well. Let your values come through your communication. Concentrate on your own voice, be distinct and be real. People want real, follow real and respect real. Be genuine and people will respect you for it.
Understand what others are saying
A misconception about being a great communicator is the ability to have an answer for everything. Great communicators ask questions to clarify things and make sure people understand what others are saying. They focus on understanding what people are communicating and check their understanding to avoid miscommunication.
Keep it relatable
I’ve noticed a pattern in my favorite managers – they all know how to explain new concepts or situations in an easy and digestible way. They tailor it to be more relatable, and therefore, memorable. Being relatable will not only increase your bond with your team, but it will inspire, empower and increase their confidence.
As I have mentioned, effective communicators are the people who listen more than they talk, but really what makes an effective communicator is trust. In most cases, people don’t open up to someone they don’t trust. When people have a sense someone is worthy of their trust, they will invest time for that person in ways they never would if they felt that person had poor character or a lack of integrity.
Have you had experiences with effective communication? Do you have different ways to tailor your communication skills? Comment your tips below!