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Avoiding A "Failure to Communicate"

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It's in every classified advertisement and most job descriptions: must have excellent communication skills. Worse yet, once hired, it reappears annually at review time: Improve communication skills. What's a worker to do? Communication skills don't require a graduate degree, just a few sense , a touch of homework and a far better understanding of the role communication plays — in everything: 


Listen. Don't assume that better communication skills mean you've got to talk like John F. Kennedy or orate like Dr. Luther King Jr. Listening skills are the foremost ignored aspect of excellent communication skills. More misunderstandings occur thanks to poor listening than to misstatements. 


To be an honest listener, suspend that urge to talk while others are speaking. Don't begin to organize what you'll say next. Listen intently, with ears, eyes, mind and body. Are you following what's being said? If so, nod in agreement. If not, a furrowed brow indicates you're confused. Your speaker needs these cues. If you truly heard and understood, repeat it back in your own words. This lets both parties know they're on an equivalent wavelength. 


Mind Your ABCs. Some people turn complex topics into simple explanations. Sadly, others' talents dwell the other direction: making simple topics complex. I strive to mind my ABCs: Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity. 


Gen. MacArthur once remarked that even more important than giving orders that would be understood was issuing orders that couldn't be misunderstood. Whether or not lives are at stake, your reputation as a communicator could also be . People appreciate short sentences; they're often confused by long, convoluted ones. Keep it succinct. 


Don't get labeled missing in action. Some excellent communicators are deemed less so for not contributing in meetings. a training client of mine from overseas was culturally uncomfortable speaking up, so others monopolized the meetings, often rudely interrupting to form some extent . Her timidity, including self-consciousness surrounding her command of English, resulted in her 

wallflower demeanor. 


Now the night before meetings she reviews the agenda, composes her thoughts and rehearses making powerful yet concise statements about items of the day. To others her remarks appear off-handed. She's thus perceived as a more powerful and effective communicator. She's also developed a pleasant yet firm statement when she's interrupted, which reminds people she hasn't yielded the ground yet. After a couple of invocations of this phrase, others respect her opinions better. Her boss has noticed and applauded her new assertiveness. 


It takes two. I knew a worker who was fired for her boss's inadequacies as a communicator. Don't pay the worth for another's communication shortcomings. it's going to require some work on your part, but it's well worth the effort. 


I once had a boss who listened, but never asked questions. After a short time I anticipated the questions that needed to be asked and posed them myself, or just provided responses as if he'd asked them. i might go prepared to every meeting with an inventory of project-related questions, which showed my foresight and a spotlight to detail. It benefited us both. 


Write speech. It seems like a Buddhist precept, yet remember, writing may be a big a part of communication. Let e-mails, weekly reports and other writings reinforce your clear thinking, organizational skills, attention to detail and skill to precise important ideas. 


Make your writing easy to read. Spelling matters, even in e-mail. Use white space, numbered lists and bulleted items to speak more effectively. Titles, subtitles and lists similarly add cogency. Write your piece, set it aside for a spell, then review it and strike out 25 percent to mention it more 



Speak up. Consider taking a speechmaking class, joining an area Toastmasters club ( to enhance your speech skills. The new skills, offline practice and confidence gleaned will assist you in meetings, in giving reports and in making presentations. 


Excellent communication skills help in some ways . With practice you'll confidently provides a speech, make a chilly call, train others; conduct a gathering , make a sales presentation, interview someone or be interviewed. 


Improved communication skills can open many doors, both within and beyond the workplace. it is time you sharpen your CQ — Your Communication Quotient!