Management 101: How to Improve Your Communication Skills

It is safe to say that communication is the single most important thing there is when it comes to working with others, resolving conflicts, and spreading ideas and information. Therefore, as a manager, you simply cannot afford to overlook the importance of good communication.

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Communication skills are a vital tool for managers and so are taught as part of both our management training and leadership training courses.

If things in the workplace are not running as smoothly as they should, you can bet that poor communication is at least partly at fault. Fortunately, there are things you can do to remedy problems caused by faulty communication. Here are some suggestions for how to improve your communication skills:

Practice effective listening

Many people focus their attentions on what they want to say next, even when others are talking to them. This is counterintuitive to effective communication.

When someone is talking to you, make it a point to give them your undivided attention. Nod in understanding, and provide feedback when it is appropriate. Wait your turn to talk, and don’t ever interrupt.

Instead of formulating your response while the other person is talking, wait until you’ve heard everything and then take the time to process what was said to you before responding.

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Consider the emotion behind what is being said

Often, what is being said is not nearly as important as the meaning behind what is being said. Therefore, as a manager, it is your job to search for deeper meaning in employee communication.

For example, if you ask an employee to work a Saturday and the employee says, “Well . . . my son has a t-ball game on Saturday . . . but I guess I could work, if I really need to,” then you need to be able to pick up on the emotion behind the words. In this example, it is fairly easy to sense that your employee really does not want to pick up that Saturday shift.

Pay attention to non-verbal language

Non-verbal cues can tell you a lot about the meaning and emotion behind the words you hear. Watch for subtle changes in stance, posture, hand gestures, and eye contact in order to uncover the deeper levels of communication that are going on underneath the verbiage.

Also, make it a point to use open body language (arms at your side, body facing them, and good eye contact) when communicating with your employees; this will let them know you are receptive to open communication.

For more information on non-verbal communication read our ‘Body Language Tips for Managers‘ post.

Good communication skills are integral to your business’ smooth running. Fortunately, deficits in communication can be improved upon with practice and conscientious application. Use these suggestions to build your communication skills.

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