With all the different forms of communication now available through technology we would expect our communication to be better. Unfortunately it some ways it is worse.
As a manager communication is a key tool in our tool box and without using it effectively we are in danger of making a bad job of it. In this article we look at the vital communication skills managers need to master.
1. Build Rapport With The Other Person
It doesn’t matter if that person is a team member or the manager of another department, one of the key communication skills is the ability to develop a rapport.
Rapport is the connection or relationship which we establish with the other person or people in the communication. It means that people are literally on the same wave length. The two biggest advantages of rapport are the higher level of understanding and the trust that develops between those involved.
We build rapport by finding or creating something in common with the other person. In many situations we find something naturally … eventually! By actively looking or creating something in common we are able to develop the rapport quicker and more effectively.
Professional observers of people (psychologists and other experts) have identified that matching the body language, energy or the way that people talk can have interesting results. Sub-consciously these behaviours help the other person to feel they have something in common i.e. discussing topics using similar tone of voice, speed and the words themselves.
2. Ask Effective Questions
Asking good questions is a key life skill and one that will make a difference if we wish to be successful. Much is discussed about using open questions that usually begin with; ‘Who, What, Where, Why, When and How’. Whilst these types of question are often very useful it is more about when to use different types of question including closed questions (ones that elicit a ‘yes’, ‘no’ or fixed answer).
Many managers make the mistake when checking understanding is to use the standard question, ‘Do you understand?’ The problem comes because many employees say ‘yes’ even if they do not! A better way to approach this may to be say, ‘Tell me what you understood from what I just said’. Just doing this simple thing will save many misunderstandings and arguments.
One key question that can be useful in many situations starts like this, ‘What’s important to you about ….?’ With customers, colleagues and managers alike this question gets to the heart of what is important to the other person and what motivates them. For example asking individual team members, ‘What’s important to you about your job?’ will help you to understand them better.
3. Listen With Intent
Many of us are guilty of selective listening or in other words only listening to what we think are the important bits! Stopping what we are doing or finding a better time to listen so that we can listen intently will help us to REALLY hear what is being said. Where we are able to listen face-to-face it is important to observe the body language that accompanies what is being said and the way it is being said. In one experiment it was estimated that around 90% of the meaning was outside of the words spoken. This means that speaking over telephone should involve greater concentration as the way things are said is our main way of gathering meaning.
Developing excellent communication skills will help in many areas of our lives. Focusing on these three key areas will provide a solid foundation for your effectiveness in the future.