Hi, I’m Dre, your mindset coach and mentor of change. Today we are going to go over five ways to improve your communication skills in the workplace. Each of these techniques that I am going to go over today are scientifically backed and proven to work.
Communication is very important. When you really think about, I want to get what is in my mind, out into the world. I want to galvanize people, and I want to bring people into my fold. When you are talking about leadership, any type of persuasion, or simply talking to someone – it all starts with communication.
Therefore, it is only natural for you to spend some time understanding ways to improve your communication skills. The thing about communication is we all think we are pretty good at it, but the research does not support those claims. Poor communication can cause companies to crumble, people to quit, friendships to end, and marriages to dissolve.
It is important that we use these five techniques so you are able to get the results you want as you commit to change your life.
- Maintain a positive posture
- Expand your perspective
- Make it about them
- Choreograph your conversations
- Invite them into the decision-making process
5 techniques to improve your communication skills in the workplace
1. Maintain a positive posture
Now this can include everything from smiling, to making sure that you are standing in a confident position. The reason this is so important is because 93% of communication is nonverbal. Beyond the 7% of communication that is verbal, body language (55 percent) and tone of voice (38 percent) is where your focus is needed.
Before I go into an important meeting, I like to stand in a superhero pose; with my hands on my waist and my chest out. In addition to instantly looking like your favorite superhero, your body will not allow you feel negative in a positive stance. Nor will your body allow you to feel positive in a negative stance.
You want to make sure you understand you are giving a lot of non-verbal signals in the workplace that others are picking up. Even if they are not completely conscious of this fact, it is impacting the way others perceive the information you are sharing.
The eyes say it all
Another positive posture position is to make eye contact. Keep in mind you are naturally going to look away, but make an effort to bring your eyes back to focus. Depending on what you are thinking, your eyes will look in a particular direction.
For example, I often look to the right when I am formulating my thoughts, look up when I am trying to remember something, to the left when I am being deceptive, and down when embarrassed.
These responses are not unique to me. They are something each of do naturally.
I am not telling you to do something unnatural, but to deliver you message (once you have gathered your thoughts) making eye contact.
When you combine each of these positive posture techniques, you are going to get the results you want. What keeps most of us from smiling, keeping eye contact, and having a confident stance is our self-doubt.
As I mentioned, your body is not going to make you a liar. Since your confidence and self-esteem is not optimal, your body is accurately reflecting your doubt.
If you have a presentation at work, maybe you believed your presentation was lacking or you were not as well prepared as you hoped. These feelings seep into your body language and other people pick up on your feelings.
That is what of the additional benefits of maintaining a positive posture. Since your body language matches your beliefs, you can change your body language to change your beliefs.
2. Expand your perspective
The reason I have this on the list is we always are looking at things from our perspective.
How does this impact me should not be the first question we ask.
Instead, take a moment and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You have probably heard that before, and sure, it definitely helps.
But you may end up creating a bias towards yourself, which is not going to help your overall cause. You would drastically improve your communication if you look at your conversations from the perspective of an unbiased third-party.
Think of yourself as the judge sitting in the court room. You have the plaintiff and the defendant. You listen to each of their perspectives and then you determine what reasonable.
Take a moment to understand all three of these aspects so that you are able to improve your communication and improve your results.
Whenever you are dealing with an unwillingness to expand your perspective, you are worried about the fear of failure and judgment.
We end up committing to our first belief because we are embarrassed or worried about the perception of being wrong. There are some people who put their foot in their mouth before they realize they were wrong. Unfortunately, they just put the other foot in their mouth by pretending they are still right.
Save yourself the time
It will save you a lot of time and energy to simply admit you misunderstood what they were talking about. You will want to be gracious, thanking them for helping you understand, and then move on. Anything else will compromise your credibility as a seeker of the truth.
I worry that a lot of people do not actually share what they are thinking and it boils to the surface in the worst ways. I truly encourage you to have honest conversations. Seek to see things from their perspective, and then seek to see things from an unbiased perspective.
3. Make it about them
If you make it about them, where you are completely engaged in the conversation with someone, you are going to be paraphrasing what they say, encouraging them, complimenting them, and helping them accomplish their goals.
It creates that reciprocity where the person is impressed with the amount of attention and focus you giving them, so they want to return the favor.
Now whenever others speak to you, they are becoming more effective communicators because they are practicing your techniques. And you know who that helps in the end? You!
When you find it difficult to encourage and focus on how you can help them, you are dealing with the fear of rejection. I mean, let’s be honest, you are putting yourself out there when you are make it all about them.
If the person does not accept your encouragement, or they stumble trying to return the favor because they do not think that highly of you – it can be a tough pill to swallow.
Do not be neutral
That is why most people decide to stay neutral in their interactions.
The problem with being neutral is the fact that you are going to draw the wrong people towards you. The more authentic you can be the better. You are correct to say that some people are not going to like you when you are authentic, but who cares?
By being authentic, you are going to push the right people away and you are going to draw the right people to you. If you do not show people your true self, you are going to lose the people who would have loved the authentic you.
4. Choreograph your conversations
By choreograph, I mean that you want to provide time limits and announce when you are going to change topics. I know it sounds excessive, but there is a study where they took some nurses and care physicians in a hospital, implemented this exact strategy, and communication improved significantly.
What they ended up realizing is that better communication improved the quality of care, as well as the overall experience of the patient. Patients felt they were receiving better care, proper diagnosis, and the right prescription doses.
It is like setting an agenda
Think about the benefits of having an agenda at a meeting. It feels like everyone is well prepared and meeting just flows better when everyone is on the same page. Well that is all I am recommending in all of your interactions.
By letting the person you are speaking with know that we are going to talk about this topic, for this period of time, they can focus on the discussion at hand. They are no longer worried about what you are going to say next, because they know you are going to tell them when it is time to move onto the next topic.
By adding the time limit to the topic at your next meeting, you will ensure that the people who high-jack the meeting appreciate the value of time. The mistake we often make is we set the topics, but without setting a time, someone can talk for thirty minutes on one agenda item.
When everyone knows the agenda item only has twenty minutes of discussion, that long talker is going to quickly realize they are wasting everyone’s time.
The smallest tweaks
The smallest tweak in preparation helps us to better absorb the information that is being communicated to us. By knowing exactly how long the conversation is going to last on a particular topic, we are allowing ourselves to relax. You can now focus on the topic at hand and allow your mind to remove all distractions. You may recall, most of the time you are not focused on the conversation at hand is because you are dealing with the fear of uncertainty related to the next topic.
As a result, you want to do everything within your power to prepare your mind for the next question.
5. Invite them into the decision-making process
Effective communication is a two-way street. Even if you are clicking on all cylinders, if the person listening to you is not fully there, you are wasting your time.
To invite the person you are speaking with into the decision-making process, you are helping them engage in the discussion by giving them an active role.
Studies show that by giving someone the necessary information to make an informed decision, they will better absorb and respond to the information you are sharing.
Now I understand that you cannot share everything as some things are on a need to know basis. But what I also understand that you can share more information than you probably are.
When the person you are communicating with is able to take an active role in the decision-making process, they are more engaged and respond positively to you.
This can also help you accomplish your overall goal. You may have been operating with incomplete information, but because you shared with them what you were doing, they were able to point you in the right direction.
Otherwise, you would have only asked for the report and they would have given it to you because they did not know enough to help you. I want to make sure you remember that communication is a two-way street. You can be as effective as you want to be, but there is so much more beneficial when both of you are effectively communicating.
Do not work in silos
I have worked with organizations that have silos among their departments. There is a lack of trust and unity, and as a result of poor communication, the company is not reaching its goals.
A lack of trust has to do with the fear of the worst-case scenario. You are thinking; ‘this may cost me my job if I share information’. If you are not managing the fear of the worst-case scenario, then you are combating the fear of losing control.
You may be thinking, ‘if I have the information, then I am the gatekeeper and everyone needs to ask me.’ I have been a part of organizations where professionals were concerned about losing their job and they believed if they had all the information, no one could terminate them.
However, you may have seen this yourself… the company changes the processes. They create a new process that do not involve the “gatekeeper”.
You never want to operate from a position of fear, but one of faith. Have faith that your value will be seen, appreciated, and not seen as a weakness. You can choose fear or faith, but operating from a place of fear puts you on the defense. Instead, go on the offense and operate from strength of faith.
By improving your communication, you will drastically improve your results. Start by paying attention to your non-verbal ques. Be aware of your tone, posture, and overall body language. Remember, your mind will not allow you to have negative emotions in a position of positivity.
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