Effective Communication: Do I Understand What You Are Saying?

Effective Communication is one of the most important parts of being a great coworker, employee, and person. What does it mean to be an effective communicator? An effective communicator can be defined as timely, concise, clear, and authentic. These characteristics will help deliver excellent customer service, create strong interpersonal skills, and foster meaningful relationships.

Exploring Methods of Communication

Email: Emails seem to be the crux of many young professionals. Some of the most important points that I preach are as follows. When formatting an email, EVERY email should have a greeting, (Dear ____), a body (the content), and a salutation (Thanks, Best, Best in Health, Thank you, ). While reading emails one should actually read them and follow any instructions within the body of the email. When responding to an email, three business days is the longest you should wait to respond.

Texting: If you give people your personal cell phone number I would suggest these guidelines. Define when it is appropriate to send text messages. Not only situationally but timewise. Do you go to bed early or rise late? Let them know that reasonable times to text are. Encourage an acknowledgment response or receipt when they receive the information they are asking for. If you are texting your supervisor or anyone for that matter, use real words. Texting with your supervisor should be objective, and work-related only.

Phone: Phone calls seem to be a challenge for many younger professionals. Some guidelines I provide to new and returning staff are the following:

1) Answer the phone professionally.
-Answering the phone in a professional manner can be as simple as “Hello” or “This is ______”. It is not appropriate to answer with “What”, “Who is this?!?” or “Ya?”

2) Set up your voicemail.
-There is nothing more off-putting than a wildly unprofessional voicemail or a voicemail that hasn’t been set up. Make you’re your voicemail is appropriate by simply stating “This is the voicemail of ________, I can’t answer the phone right now. Please leave a message and I will call you back.”

3) Answer or call back immediately if your supervisor calls you.
-I always ask that my staff listen to their messages before calling me back. This allows them to be prepared with the information that I need and I do not have to repeat myself.

Verbal communication: Be clear with what you need/ want. People, in general, are not good at guessing what others need outside of themselves. If you are worked up about something and need to have a conversation about it, give yourself time to cool off. It is important to leave volatile feelings out of it unless you can talk about them calmly. Being as objective as possible allows the opportunity for rational dialogue. For example, an objective way to discuss feelings in a work environment could use this format, “I feel this way because of this… This is what I would like to do..”

Best Practices of Effective Communication

The most important part of becoming an effective communicator is to do what you say you are going to do. Following through on your commitments is key.  This builds trust, and personal/workplace credibility. This is one of the hardest things to accomplish as it requires the ability to say no to commitments that you truly do not have the time for. Co-workers and supervisors alike will respect the ability to say no when you feel like you are spreading yourself too thin. “More no’s for better yes’s.”- Paul Wesselman 

In addition, to follow through, it is important to understand your ability to complete tasks within a certain time frame.  It is better to delay communication than to over promise.  For example, if someone needs you to complete a task, instead of saying you will complete it by tomorrow, give yourself a few days. 

While communicating in all forms, keep it simple.  Say what you mean, in as few words as possible. It is always better to be direct instead of passive-aggressive. Communicating in a passive-aggressive manner does not spare people’s feelings, it just rubs people the wrong way. Use your most authentic voice. Your speech inflections and vernacular are unique and make you an individual. Use your language regardless of if you move regions, jobs, or career fields. Authenticity allows your values and personality shine through your communication. Combining your authentic self, unique language, and professionalism creates genuine professional you. 

Delivery

There is no substitute for face to face communication. Be visible and do not hide behind email or texts. It is very important to not only listen to all cues verbal cues as well as observing nonverbal cues i.e., body language. Be aware of how people react to what you are saying.  Are you cognizant of how you verbally communicate? If you notice less than positive responses to your verbal communication take some time to self-reflect.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How loud is your volume?
  2. Is your pitch constant?
  3. Is your tone condescending?
  4. Do your inflections suggest you are asking a question?
  5. What are you actually saying?

People don’t remember what you say, they remember how you make them feel.

Communication in the Workplace

While communicating with patrons and coworkers alike it is crucial to listen to what they are actually saying. Squash the desire to jump in and contribute by saying less and asking more. People first and foremost want to be heard. As conversations seem to wrap up ask “And what else?”. This fully delves into the actual concern or problem. 10.13.17 communication quote.jpg10.13.17 oprah quote

Create Personal Connections

Say HI! Ask the right questions.  Take the time ask how a coworker is doing. Take the time to listen to the answer. Take the time to ask follow up questions and retain the information that is given to you.  I 100% recommend putting forth your most authentic (work appropriate) self, 100% of the time. Don’t put on a front; co-workers and patrons alike can tell it’s fake. OWN it! Own who you are and bring your positive attributes and talents to the table.

be a narwhal.jpgown it.jpg

Take-Aways

-effective communication builds-TrustOpen lines of communicationStrong relationships

Written By: Richelle

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