Developing key skills – communication
During these challenging times, it’s important to stay productive. You might not be doing your usual day-to-day tasks, so why not stay Key productive by improving some of the basic skills required in business.
Over the next few weeks, I will be working on areas within my own personal practice which will involve self-analysis and improving skills. I look forward to sharing the information that I find to be useful. I will be blogging about areas such as time management, organisation, critical thinking and in this instance, communication skills.
Make communication a priority.
Take online classes, read books, magazine articles or learn from successful communicators around you. Utilize the experience of other strong communicators in your sector. To make a start, write out an honest list of your strengths and weaknesses. I like to start with weakness, so I don’t feel too deflated, and finish on a positive. Focus on building on your strengths and improving your weakness, and you will find more creative ways to problem-solve and communicate clearly.
Don’t make the list too complicated, a weakness could be that you don’t format emails correctly. Or maybe that you are hesitant to deliver bad news to clients. A very successful MD of an FMCG company once advised me that it’s the measure of a good communicator when he/she can respond just a quick with good news or bad. On the other hand, a strength could be that you pick up the phone straight away when you need to deliver news to a client or a colleague.
Simplify and stay on message.
Use simple, straightforward language. For example, don’t try impress with a longwinded email that is full of fancy words and roundabout ways of delivering your message.
Instead, keep in mind: clear subject, a short greeting, reason for email and action plan going forward. If you’re sending an FYI, then state that clearly and deliver the information.
It’s not always easy to shorten your message. If this is the case, just ask yourself what you want the receiver to take away from the email. For example, I want him/her to understand my product and company vision, I want them to be aware of my presence as I believe my service is relevant to their company. To start, google business email formatting, read back over your sent items and ask yourself how you could improve, and stay focused on the message rather than the vocabulary.
Make sure you understand and are being understood.
At times in my career, I have been in situations with clients/bosses where I left a meeting or a short brief not fully understanding what the next steps were and what was expected of me. Similarly, there have been times when I have been misunderstood or didn’t deliver my message clearly (I hope I’m delivering it clearly now!) Clients and bosses don’t always explain a situation clearly. As they are experts in their field, they can sometimes skip over content that needs to be explained better. They want you to ask the question – ‘Sorry can you explain that further? I am a bit uncertain. Is this what you expect me to do? ……’ These questions help to outline the project and prevents error and do-overs.
Look at it this way, if you’re worried about looking stupid in front of your team or annoying your client/boss in the moment, you will annoy them a lot more if you don’t deliver and get the whole project wrong. Instead ask the questions. (Trust me, your team won’t think you’re stupid. There’s a good chance they didn’t know either!) If your boss/client is annoyed in the moment, they won’t be in the long run when you deliver clear, concise work.
To not get wires crossed in the future, stay focused and ask yourself ‘Do I fully understand this challenging material?’
I hope the above helped. Other areas you can research and develop once you have self-analysed the above are your listening skills, body language, eye contact and knowing your audience.
Next time I will focus on time management. Feel free to comment below with any tips or experiences of your own.
Thanks for reading and stay safe.