9 Best Practices to Improve Your Communication Skills and Become a More Effective Leader

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Ineffective communication can affect productivity, organizational culture, individual and collective leadership, and cause people to work harder, not smarter.

David Grossman reported in The Cost of Poor Communication that a survey of 400 companies each with 100,000 employees reported an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year due to poor communication with and between employees.

Working with clients and companies over the years, I have seen millions of dollars and opportunities lost, promotions denied, and relationships tarnished due to poor and ineffective communication. In my own professional life, my poor communication skills have resulted in the loss of thousands of dollars and missed promotions, opportunities and business; In my personal life it has resulted in the loss of romantic relationships, friendships, love and passion.

Related: Why office communications are valued and often ignored

Here are nine ways you can improve your communication skills to become a more effective leader in business and in life.

1. Be an active listener

According to the late American author and businessman Stephen R. Covey, “Most people don’t listen to understand; they listen with the intent to respond.”

How often do you slow down and really take the time without actively listening to an agenda? Try to understand instead of being understood. You may need to get a point or provide information to the other person, but can you take a little extra time beforehand to really listen to the other person and hear what that person is saying and communicating nonverbally with their words and actions? Practice becoming an active listener with the next person you meet.

2. Ask effective questions

How often do you shy away from asking questions? Maybe you’re afraid of asking the wrong questions, looking stupid, or overthinking how the other person or team will experience or interpret you. These are all perfectly normal thoughts and feelings to arise, but unless questions are asked there is no way to get to the heart of the situation and many people will attribute their own meaning to a situation and get stuck in the unknown. Next time, ask if you want to see real results.

3. Understand and know your audience

It is important to do your research and know who you will be targeting; Every audience is different. Interact with your audience, ask questions, and tune into what might be of value to the people in it. What should they know and learn best? Ask yourself how you can best serve them right now.

4. Stop using non-verbal communication

Much of our communication is non-verbal, and there are many studies to back this up; You can listen to the words being spoken, but are you listening and aware of the non-verbal cues being given? researcher found that tone of voice, facial expressions, and body gestures provide important information: folding your arms, looking away, or positioning your body and feet away from the other person are signs that they are not engaged, open, or receptive.

Which non-verbal communication characteristics do you adopt from others and perhaps even continue yourself? Research by the Face Research Laboratory found that both women and men were more attracted to images of people making eye contact and smiling than those who didn’t, so try smiling and making eye contact more often.

5. Communicate effectively

Given the fast pace of society or high levels of anxiety, overcommunication must be used effectively. Keep it simple, sync early and often, and leave room for others to ask questions for better understanding.

See also: Effective communication means business success

6. Begin and end powerfully

People remember how you start and end communication. Whether it’s an in-person interview or a presentation to a large audience, you’ll remember how you start and end, so give them something to remember. They can start or end with a question, a meaningful statistic or quote, or a relevant story.

7. Timing is everything

All great and effective communicators are able to use their intuition, feelings, and emotional intelligence to feel their audience. Asking a different question, using an example or story to illustrate a point, reiterating a point, and knowing when it’s time to move on are all critical factors that contribute to the timing of communication.

8. Make yourself comfortable when you are uncomfortable

Not every situation or conversation will be easy or convenient. Feeling uncomfortable keeps you on your toes and allows you to lean on your leadership skills and navigate difficult conversations. Practice putting yourself in uncomfortable situations to stretch yourself and your capacities.

9. Have fun

don’t be boring research and studies conducted with different groups of students show that laughter and humor can enhance a learning experience, improve mood, reduce anxiety and make experiences more enjoyable. Be aware of what your audience needs at the moment; Sometimes a little laughter and humor can go a long way.

Effective communication is one of the most valuable skills you can cultivate and improve as a leader in life and business. Knowing how to communicate effectively will change your business, your life, and the whole world – it did for me. It only takes a small shift to have a lasting positive effect.

See also: How effective employee communication increases productivity

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