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6 ways to become a better communicator

Makarand Sawant, Senior General Manager – IT, Deepak Fertilisers and Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd, tells Shweta Gandhi his strategies for communicating well.

#1 Be straightforward and get to the point
“There’s actually an acronym for this—BRIEF: Background, Reason, Information, End, Follow-up—to help you keep your emails short without leaving anything out. It’s a good policy for both written and verbal communication. Clear and concise are two of the 7 Cs of communication, along with concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous.”

#2 Improve your online communication
“The easy way to do that is by knowing your audience, understanding the circumstances, asking constructive questions while anticipating and being concise. People prefer online chats today. But it has certain disadvantages. The worst part is that while on a chat you are not sure of the person you are talking to. Learn the loopholes of the medium you’re talking in and find your way around them. Keep yourself abreast of the latest news on these topics. Be sure of the actions that you take so that nothing untoward takes places. One needs to be extra careful all the time.”

#3 Pause and prepare
“Good communication requires context and fully understanding the circumstances. Making assumptions could lead to a waste of time, going in circles without moving forward. In a professional space this means understanding the goal of the person on the other end of the conversation. What are they trying to accomplish and what is it that they need from you? If you’re the one who needs help or advice, be clear on what it is that you’re trying to accomplish and convey it to the other person. Give as much information as necessary, but also strive to be as succinct as possible. Too much fluff and beating around the bush could make communication muddy. Write down the points you absolutely have to address, along with how much information you need to provide to ensure you’re clear in what you’re conveying. Any other information that is not necessary, unless it can help clarify a point, should be left out.”

#4 Improve your body language
“You tell your partner you’re open to discussion but your arms are crossed. You say you’re listening, but haven’t looked up from your phone yet. Our non-verbal cues often reveal more than we think they do. Whether it’s how you make eye contact or how you hold yourself during a video interview, don’t forget that you’re constantly communicating even when you’re not saying a word. A strange way to tap into your body for better communication? Wriggle your toes. You will start to loosen up out of your stiff posture and into a more relaxed, receptive one. Or adopt a power pose if you need to boost your confidence before a big talk. Or learn how to read other people’s body language so you can respond appropriately.”

#5 Speak in person
“We need to be more available for short in-person catch-ups to provide feedback or approval that will keep us moving forward. If a conversation is going in circles over chat or email, we need to know when to bring it offline so that we can continue to make progress. We need to restart the concept of stopping by someone’s desk for a quick chat or grabbing a conference room for a short meeting. When catching up with a remote teammate, a video chat can go a long way—but book a conference room as some privacy would be beneficial. There’s just something about seeing the expression on someone’s face when she explains something. It feels more collaborative to come to a decision together in real-time, as opposed to reading each other’s edited words on a chat screen.”

#6 Actually listen
“This is included in every possible resource on being a good communicator—and that’s because it’s really important. You have to actively listen in order to reply, contribute and collaborate. A great communicator is an active listener and doesn’t interrupt (unless necessary to clarify a point). Even then, take notes so as to ask questions at the end instead of interrupting, because your question could be answered in the next sentence. Feedback is just another word for effective listening, it is an opportunity to motivate, a way to keep learning. Comments are often regarded as a right but they can do more harm than good. In the absence of strict moderation, we’d be much better off without them.” 

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz

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