Communication challenges is one of the most commonly cited reasons for the failure of relationships - personal and professional. No matter our level of education, intelligence and experience I am sure we can all recount communication failures in the workplace. It may be an occasional misunderstanding or it may be a more fundamental inability to communicate with another person, which causes a breakdown in the relationship.
At work we interact with lots of different people from diverse backgrounds and with different personalities to ourselves, as a result you may struggle to communicate with some people effectively.
Follow these tips to improve your communications with everyone.
1. Talk how they like to be spoken to.
A common saying goes, 'Treat people how you would like to be treated'. This may be a good rule of thumb but in communications I prefer - 'Communicate to people how they want to be communicated to.' Everyone is different, some of us are more direct, others more talkative; some are business like while others are more personal; some love details while others prefer a high level overview. When you start to notice these differences in people and talk in a way that suits their style you will be able to create better connections with them, convince them more easily and get better results.
2. Assume positive intent.
Too often in our communications we assume wrong doing in the other party which leads us to take an attacking style, which we may not even be aware of. Even if the other person is in the wrong, our negative assumptions and frustrated tone damage the relationship. Instead assume positive intent - that others are trying their best to do a good job with the resources and capabilities they have at their disposal.
3. Keep it simple.
Simpler is always better than complex. If you can't summarise your ideas in a few short sentences then the message is too complex. Remember you may have had hours or even weeks to grasp your ideas but someone else is hearing them for the first time. So simplify and slow down.
4. Understand their needs
We listen when people talk about things that really resonate with us. Find out what people's needs are and frame your communication in a way that appeals to them. For example if trying to convince your finance manager to adopt a new IT system, you would focus on the value for money and ROI. Talking about the exciting technology might not hit his buttons but cost savings could do the job!
5. Accept your own flaws.
No one is perfect. If you are having poor communications with others then don't jump to blame them. What are you doing that diminishes the quality of the communication? Do you make it easy for the other person to talk to you? Are you holding information back? What is your mood like?