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5 Essential Communication Skills Everybody Needs

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How to get the outcome you want from your important work conversations? Your communication skills will determine how successful you are at work and in business. We take our ability to communicate for granted. But if you’ve ever had a misunderstanding or conflict at work, it will be due to poor communication skills. Frustrating for managers and staff, this can lead to relationship breakdowns and these misunderstandings cost businesses time and money.

 So what are those essential communication skills that will help you succeed at work, no matter what your level of seniority in the business?

Here are five tips to boost your communication skills at work

1. Listen to understand

Most of us don’t listen to understand. We listen for what we want to hear, or to respond to the other person. Listening to understand is much more challenging but worth the effort.  When we are listened to, it makes us feel good – about ourselves and the other person. Be genuinely curious about the other person’s position. Resist the temptation to be wedded to a particular response or outcome for the conversation. This is probably the most important of all the communication skills to master.

2. Understand your listener’s perspective

Communication happens in the mind of the listener, so if your message is going to get through, you’ll want to understand the other person’s perspective. How might they be feeling? What pressures are they under? How might previous events have affected their outlook? Test your assumptions about their perspective.

3. Ask open questions

Open questions begin with ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘who’ ‘what’ and ‘how’. They’re great because they don’t let the other person reply with a one word yes or no answer. Using open questions results in more useful conversations because they help you get into more detail and explore each other’s’ perspectives. And remember to listen to the answer.

4. Prepare for important conversations

Many people think about what they’re going to have a conversation about. Fewer think about the outcome they want from the conversation. Before you have any conversation, consider how you want the other person to think and feel at the end, and/or what you want them to do as a result of the conversation.

5. Make adequate time for having conversations

Don’t let seemingly more important things get in the way. There’s nothing better for improving relationships and business results, and progressing your career than having productive, considered conversations that result in better problem solving, generating new ideas and better ways of working, and improving behaviours.

Final Thought

Communication is not an event. It’s an ongoing process. When people see that you’re making the effort to listen to them, understand them, get their point of view and involve them, they are likely to do the same. Improving your communication skills will bring you more career and business success and help you in all areas of your life.

So how will you use these tips to help you at work in future?  What can you start doing immediately to improve your communication skills and the quality of the conversations you will have in future? What benefits do you hope it’ll bring you?

At work – and everywhere else for that matter, ineffective conversations lead to misunderstanding and conflict. In business, not only is this frustrating for business owners, managers and staff, but it costs everyone time (something we all complain we don’t have enough of) and it costs the business money… 

About the author: Fiona Cohn’s expertise is in the field of communications, having worked in a variety of communication and management roles for decades. Passionate about effective communication and employee engagement, often overlooked by businesses, but fundamental to business success, she has worked with organisations to improve management/staff relationships. She also coaches business owners and directors to improve their communication skills, personal effectiveness and productivity.
For more information, please go to Fiona’s LinkedIn profile.

Maximise your important business conversations

To find out more about communication skills, read our eBook "Maximise your important business conversations".

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