Communication is a common character trait among some of the greatest leaders and most successful people. Without a good sense of communication, you might find yourself struggling to make connections.
Not only does bad communication make everything more complicated than it needs to be, but according to a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, it can also lead to financial losses upward of millions of dollars a year. Letting that much money go to loss is just plain irresponsible.
Becoming a better communicator is important to your growth, and it’s easier than you might think. With these four easy steps, you too can become a master at communication.
Step 1: Listen.
You’ve probably heard this, but it remains proven that the first step to becoming a great communicator is to become a better listener. Listening is a skill that can always be improved, no matter how good you think you already are.
The first step to being a better listener is to cut out all distractions. When you’re talking to someone, make that your only priority at the time. No smartphones, computer screens, or other kinds of distractions should be taking up your attention. Humans only have an 8-second attention span, so make sure that you are continuing to focus on what you’re listening to.
Be sure to smile so that the other person feels comfortable while sharing this information with you. This may seem like you’re listening in order to be polite, but what you are really doing is learning as much as you can in order to understand the situation at the absolute fullest. Once you’ve heard all there is to hear, you are ready to move on to step 2.
Step 2: Absorb.
This is the step that most people forget. After you’ve listened to all the information that someone’s given you, take a moment to fully absorb the information. Tell whoever you are talking to “give me a moment to process” and consider your response.
Once you know where you stand with the information, then you can formulate how to move forward with the situation. If you just rush headfirst into the next step, you could very likely be making a wrong decision.
Absorb and process, and then you are ready to move on to step 3.
Step 3: Respond.
After you’ve fully listened and taken a moment or two to absorb the information, it’s time to give back and respond. Give your thoughts on the information and allow your audience to listen to you just as you listened to them. If you set a good example when you were the listener, they’ll probably return the favor. It’s now your turn to expand on the subject.
Are you finding that you’re confused about what was said in the first place? That’s just fine! The Society of Human Resource Management recommends using the acronym TED when you find yourself in these situations.
T.E.D. Stands for:
- Tell me more.
- Explain what you mean.
- Define that tern or concept for me further.
By using TED, you keep the conversation going in order to get all the information you need, or to understand the context better. Not only will you understand everything better, but those with whom you are communicating will have a better grasp as well. After you have given your response, repeat steps 1-3 until the conversation comes to a natural endpoint. Then you are ready for step 4.
Step 4: Reflect.
Step 4 comes after a considerable amount of time has passed since the initial conversation. After the entire interaction concludes and you distance yourself, look back on it and reflect about how you feel. Sometimes you’ll have a different feeling than you did when you were in the moment itself. It’s important to look at this contrast and try to understand why you’re feeling the way you do.
Maybe you feel the same, and that’s okay! This just means that you’re sure in your decisions and confident in your choices, as all good leaders are. This is just another step in the process that ensures that you have communicated your feeling to the best of your ability.
Be the master.
Now that you have the tools to become a master at communicating, put it to good use! These skills can be applied to almost every conversation you have, and they have the power to enrich every one of them. Whether you are talking to your friends, your colleagues, or even your family, communicating is the key to understanding everyone better.
Speaking of those relationships, did you know that conflict can sometimes lead to a better understanding of one another? Check out our blog, “How to Use Conflict to Strengthen Relationships.”