Using Effective Communication Skills to Engage Employees
Surely you’ve experienced this situation before. You told a subordinate to do a task, either by email or in person. You were 100% sure that your explanation was clear and detailed. You were certain that they understood, and they clearly indicated that this was the case. What happened next Well, of course, the employee proceeded to do exactly what you asked, in the way you asked it, with the intended results. Right Wrong. Too often, workplace communication is misunderstood and effective communication skills are noticeably absent. With the advance of digital communication tools, this is even more pronounced.
Whether it is because a lack of attention or a deficiency in communication skills, misunderstandings are commonplace. Many times, these are harmless occurrences that, at best, result in a few laughs and, at worst, cost some time and frustration. But what’s to stop small communication mistakes from resulting in huge losses in revenue or business This is a very real possibility, but it can be avoided. However, you shouldn’t be too quick to blame employees for the breakdown in communication. Effective communication skills are just as much the responsibility of the sender as they are of the receiver.
Tell Stories to Engage and Increase Retention
Humans are essentially story telling creatures. We tell stories every day to ourselves and others. We construct stories around our thoughts, emotions and the things that happen to us. It is an almost unconscious reaction. Stories are also a great way to use effective communication skills because they are much easier to remember and more likely to hit home than other types of communication. Specifically, stories are effective when you tell them so that they are:
1.Applicable to Your Audience
Something that resonates with your audience is more likely to be remembered. Know your audience’s pain points, the things that they worry and agonize over, and watch their ears perk up when you use these in a story.
2.Unexpected in Subject Matter
Think about it. It is almost common sense that people are more interested and engaged in stories that contain new and novel information rather than something they already know.
3.Negative in the Right Way
Triggering employees’ fear reaction is a great way to turn blank stares into actively engaged listing. We have a natural instinct to avoid things that might cause us harm.
Listen Better and Practice Empathy
A big part of being a great communicator is being a great listener as well. People with effective communication skills know this. Sometimes bosses and managers may get caught up in giving orders and forget that they need to allow employees to talk and share their opinions as well. Becoming a good listener and encouraging employee feedback can make you a better manager because you will learn how you can improve and where your communication skills are missing the mark. It will also help you build a stronger, more authentic relationship with your employees. To improve your listening skills, try:
-Giving the speaker all your attention
-Clearly indicating that you are listening
-Paraphrasing the speaker so you can ensure you understood them correctly
Pay Attention to Body Language
Even if employees do not know it, their body language may tell you what they truly think about what you are saying. Watch the collective non-verbal communication of the group to get a sense of how your message is being received. If you see lots of crossed arms and lack of eye contact, you may need to check your tone or consider throwing in a story. Pay attention to what your own body is saying as well to improve your effect communication skills. Use open body language and gestures and maintain steady eye contact.
What You Say Is Just as Important as How You Say It
With all these expert message delivery techniques it is important to remember that the content of what you are saying has to be authentic, accurate and backed by authority. If you do not truly know what you are talking about, your listeners will realize it. The same is true if you tell stories containing lies and half truths. If employees fact check the things you tell them, you are sure to be found out, and their respect for you will plummet.
If you truly want to excel in business, effective communication skills are non-negotiable. According to the Project Management Institute, organizations that exhibit highly competent communication skills, there is an 80% success rate at achieving project goals, as compared to a 52% success rate for ineffective or less effective organizations. Good communication also corresponds to completing projects on time and in budget. For more information on taking your organizational effectiveness to the next level, read through the other resources and articles on Mighty Recruiter.