10 Tips for Effective Communication

Are you an effective communicator?

Communication is one of the most important aspects of leadership. Effective leaders communicate in a concise, professional manner. Few people have the time or patience for long drawn-out communication. That doesn’t mean all good communication is short or that you should leave out important details. Just omit what’s not important and doesn’t support your point. Everyone appreciates brevity.

Professional communication means sticking to the subject at hand, saying what you know, and clearly identifying statements that are speculative or for which you are unsure.

It isn’t difficult to become an effective communicator. Here are 10 tips to help.

1. Keep your thoughts ahead of your speech. Once the words leave your mouth, they cannot be called back. Make sure what you say is what you intend to say.

2. Avoid personal attacks. Try to see what you’re going to say from the listener’s point of view. What may seem harmless to you might seem like an attack to them.

3. Be positive. Instead of “Your reports are getting sloppy,” try “You’ve always given me great reports. Lately though, I have noticed they aren’t up to your normal standards.”

4. Watch the use of profanity. It’s best not to use it at all. Even if the person you’re talking to has an interesting vocabulary, they may not appreciate it from you. Some will; some won’t. While subordinates who are offended often won’t tell you, they will harbor resentment.

5. Understand the difference between critique and criticism. Though these words are nearly synonymous, there is a difference in application. Think of a critique as a critical analysis or evaluation of something and criticism as a judgment of someone. You may critique someone’s work, but don’t criticize them.

6. Project good on others and bad on yourself. “You did a great job on that project, but I was disappointed that it was not completed on time.” Likewise, when talking to others give success to your people, keep failure for yourself. “Jane did a great job on that project; unfortunately, I delivered it a little late.” (That isn’t to say you can’t discuss Jane’s lateness with her one-on-one) This is a concept many leaders fail to grasp. Just as you bask in the glow of your team’s success, you must also take responsibility for the things that go wrong.

7. The age old advice to praise in public and critique in private still applies.

8. Do not adopt a superior tone with subordinates. They are not children and they won’t respond well to it.

9. Control anger and keep your voice even. Too many discussions quickly elevate to arguments or shouting matches. Even if the other person gets excited, you must stay on an even keel. Don’t let anger guide you. Seldom does anything good come from words said in anger.

10. Make sure your actions match your words. Sometimes actions say more than words. If you tell someone you’re interested in what they say, but then continue reading the papers on your desk, the message to them is clear.

Try these ten tips and watch your communication, and therefore your leadership effectiveness increase.

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