Groom Yourself to be a Master Communicator

Communication skills – it’s critical for your success in work, and it’s on the top of hiring managers’ lists when interviewing and assessing candidates for employment.

The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
– George Bernard Shaw


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Ask people at work what the major challenges are, and what they would most like to improve and you’re likely to hear will be “we need to improve communication around here.” With 80% of problems at work being caused directly by poor communication, it is a problem that has to be addressed in every workplace.

On average, a person loses weeks of productivity each year because tasks were not properly explained or people were left out of important communications. This wasted time affects the bottom line, and leads to people being overworked, or demoralized. Worse yet, a good staff member leaves employment because of communication difficulties.

Studies have shown that most employees leave their jobs because of communication difficulties with the boss, not because of money or overwork.

Communication issues fall within a few broad areas:

Organizational Structure. Example: People are left out of important communication loops or decision-making processes.

Organization Culture: Example: Lack of direct communication – important communications are put in writing (email) rather than spoken in person.

Management Style: Example: Managers and staff don’t communicate openly about what is really happening or what they see as important issues and challenges.

Personal Listening Skills: Example: Perception that managers don’t understand or respond to staff ideas, needs or concerns.

Not every situation is the same, but establishing a sound protocol for improving communication only takes a little thought and planning. For example, you might find a situation or practice that you feel needs changing. Rather than reacting, or immedately implementing solutions you think are needed, take a step back and ask yourself (and others) some questions.

Asking questions is one of the most effective communication tools available to us. Asking questions will bring you feedback, insight, new ideas, better relationships. A few questions to ask yourself (and others) about a challenging situation:

· What is actually happening?
· How do I (and others) read this situation?
· What sort of action I / others believe is needed to rectify the problem?
· What would I / others prefer to happen?

Formulate a plan of action based on the information you’ve gathered. A good plan is simple and easy to communicate. Can you communicate a change, or a new approach in 60 seconds or less? Can others understand your communication easily?

Every time you communicate, make a point to stop for a few seconds and reflect on what you are going to communicate.

The ability to communicate well, which includes listening well and asking good questions is an important skill for career success.

Are you building or eroding your career success through your communication skills?

If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.
– Woodrow Wilson

…continued in Ebook: Success in Work

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