July 6, 2010 Communication

Good Communicator! Listening is a must!

We all know that competent skill sets and experience are always important when companies are making hiring or promotional decisions, However, having good communication skills can be the ultimate verdict in hiring and promoting someone.

In those instances where two or three individuals of similar skills interview for the same position, it’s been shown that the individual who is often extended the offer is the one who communicates the best. In fact, there are times that an individual with a lesser skill set will get the position simply because of his or her communication abilities.  So, how does one become a good communicator?  There are some key elements that go into being a good communicator.

First of all it takes time, effort and practice.  In today’s world where everyone is moving very quickly, an effective communicator needs to develop the quality of also being a good listener. 

You must take a sincere interest in what others have to say, regardless if you find the information boring or irrelevant. Unfortunately, what sometimes happens to all of us is that we anticipate what the other person is going to say and start working on our response early in a conversation.  Ironically, this action can sometimes precede a brilliant idea and yet it is completely lost during the conversation. 

Good communicators know taking the time to ask the right questions and really listen to the answers is never time wasted. Do you communicate more respectfully with top-level executives than you do your peers? Are your communication abilities influenced at all by whether or not the person you’re communicating with can help YOU? Are your motivations to communicate influenced by how much money a potential customer has to pay you? If so, it might be time to rethink your motivations.

Making others feel special is at the core of successful communication. When others feel validated and heard, they usually respond in kind. It’s the old reciprocity idea: If you treat me well, I’ll treat you well. Good communicators pick up on the little things that are important to others and remember important dates, events, and names.  It takes practice!

Good communicators take the time to take the time. Do you hurry others along when they speak because you have more important things to do? Do you stare at your computer screen or smart phone when others are talking to you, assuring the other person that you’re really listening? Studies have shown that if there’s a contradiction between one’s words and one’s actions, the truth is perceived to lie in the actions. Make sure your nonverbal communication isn’t contradicting your good verbal intentions.

Because work environments change on a regular basis, part of being a good communicator involves being flexible. Your ability to make decisions that are well thought out and based on fact, not simply speculation or emotion, will be recognized as a valuable asset. If you need more information before you can move forward, ask for it. If you’re confused by what you hear, ask for clarification. Make no assumption that asking for something makes you look foolish or stupid. Good communicators ask a lot of questions and then take action toward goals that will benefit both themselves and others. Remember: We are all works in progress. By taking incremental steps to improve your communication effectiveness, you’ll reap long-term professional and personal rewards.