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Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship, and a leader is expected to build and sustain relationships on different levels. Accordingly, this article proposes ten tips to bridge the gap- increasing your effectiveness.
- Understand your communication style.
Aside from knowing your communication style, making others aware of it is also essential. Tell the people who work with you how you work best. Do you have an open communication style? Are you accustomed to a hands-on approach? Communication flows better when they know. They shouldn’t have to guess.
- Eliminate barriers.
Barriers block your ability to communicate effectively. Become astute at recognizing and eliminating them (cultural diversity, language, space, jargon, perception, distractions, presentation, personal behavior, too much information, etc.).
- Be flexible.
Seek to understand as well as to be understood. Often, we block communication by pushing our idea and disregarding the ideas of others.
Listening is easier said than done. Like many of you, I’m thinking about the next thing to say, or my mind is processing five things at once. Slow down. Give the person your full attention.
- Ask questions.
Great leaders ask questions, and no question is dumb. It is better to pose a question than to assume you understand.
- Stay connected.
Walk around to determine how things are going. Survey the land! At the same time, be approachable. An unfriendly or cold stance will alienate you from the troops.
- Get feedback.
Avail yourself of constructive criticism. How else will you grow? Equally important, seek feedback about processes and policies as well as products and services. Make good use of suggestion boxes or short online surveys.
- Maximize meetings.
Most people see meetings as a waste of time because they lack structure and meaning. Don’t waste time with stuff that doesn’t matter. Instead, turn them into problem solving sessions. Equally important, stay on task and stick to the agenda. By the way, always have an agenda.
- Present yourself with poise and confidence.
If you struggle to present yourself with poise and confidence, get help. Everyone is not gifted in this area; but you can hone this invaluable skill by joining Toastmaster, enrolling in a course, attending a seminar, or working with a coach. Remember, your professional image speaks volumes.
- Keep people informed.
One way is to provide regular updates in writing (via email or memo). Now I’m not suggesting overwhelming people with lengthy correspondence. Keep it short. Some communication is better than no communication.
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