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WAYS YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS AND STAND OUT OF THE CROWD

  1. Listen, listen, and listen. People want to know that they are being heard. Really listen to what the other person is saying, instead of formulating your response. Ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings. At that moment, the person speaking to you should be the most important person in your life. Another important point is to have one conversation at a time. This means that if you are speaking to someone on the phone, do not respond to an email, or send a text at the same time. The other person will know that she doesn’t have your undivided attention.
  2. You have to over-communicate just to communicate. In 1990, a graduate student at Stanford University was able to prove that presenters overestimate how much listeners understand. In a study that become known as “the tappers and the listeners,” one set of participants was asked to tap the melody of 120 famous songs. The other participants were asked to guess what song was being tapped.
  1. Who you are talking to matters. It is okay to use acronyms and informal language when you are communicating with a buddy, but if you are emailing or texting your boss, “Hey,” “TTYL” or any informal language, has no place in your message. You cannot assume that the other person knows what the acronym means. Some acronyms have different meanings to different people, do you want to be misunderstood? Effective communicators target their message based on who they are speaking to, so try to keep the other person in mind, when you are trying to get your message across.
  2. Ask for honest feedback. As with most leadership skills, receiving honest feedback from peers, managers and members of your team is critical to becoming a better communicator. If you regularly solicit feedback, others will help you to discover areas for improvement that you might have otherwise overlooked.
  3.  Be brief, yet specific. For written and verbal communication, practice being brief yet specific enough, that you provide enough information for the other person to understand what you are trying to say. And if you are responding to an email, make sure that you read the entire email before crafting your response. With enough practice, you will learn not to ramble, or give way too much information.
  1. Start and end with key points. Think back to the “tappers and listeners” study mentioned earlier. Clear communication is of paramount importance. To ensure that the audience understands the key takeaways from a presentation, reiterate key points at the start and finish. This can also be accomplished by providing attendees with a one-pager that includes key points the audience should consider throughout the presentation.
  2. Maintain a positive attitude and smile. Even when you are speaking on the phone, smile because your positive attitude will shine through and the other person will know it. When you smile often and exude a positive attitude, people will respond positively to you.
  3. Record important presentations for posterity. It can take a good deal of time and energy to communicate effectively. In cases where you may need to give the same presentation multiple times, consider recording it and sharing it in the future.
  1. Write things down. Take notes while you are talking to another person or when you are in a meeting, and do not rely on your memory. Send a follow-up email to make sure that you understand what was being said during the conversation.
  2. Get to know your audience. To communicate effectively, it is important to get to know your audience first. Each audience is different, and will have different preferences and cultural norms that should be considered when communicating. A good way to understand expectations is to ask members of the audience for examples of good communicators within the organization.

 

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