Communication plays a vital role in our lives and businesses. It helps us to make sense of the world, express our ideas and feelings, and helps us understand the emotions and thoughts of the others.
In fact, it’s so important it can make us develop affection or hatred toward other people, issues or topics, shaping positive or negative relationships. We’re certainly witnessing this in both the political and corporate spheres as the COVID-19 pandemic plays out. Here’s how I’m coping with the lockdown.
Clear, compassionate, and thoughtful communication will make all the difference when offering reassurance, breaking news (good and bad) or explaining change whether it be to clients, colleagues, friends, family or strangers. No matter what you need to say, it can often be daunting.
Here are six steps for clear and effective communication for even the most difficult conversations, and the principles can be applied for both verbal and written purposes.
Pay attention. Give your full attention when someone is sharing information with you and when you’re researching your material. You have one mouth and two ears, so listen twice as much as you chatter. Aside from basic manners, it really is the only way you can learn and understand. Apply this principle when doing any research – check your sources are trustworthy and pay attention to the details.
Empathise. Empathy is the art of putting yourself is another person’s shoes to understand the emotion and perspective of the other person. It helps us communicate in a way that will make sense to others. If you understand your audience, you’ll find this much easier.
Build rapport. Developing a connection with those who are receiving your communication is vital. Whether it’s verbal or non-verbal, building rapport is the spark that goes beyond words.
Be clear. Using the right words and the right tone is crucial for information to get through. The seven rules of clear communication are: clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous. Read about using common sense on social media and see my tips on excellent writing.
Tell the truth. Honesty is always the best policy; this goes without saying, but it’s frightening how often the truth can be varnished or lost entirely. Don’t speculate, sugar-coat or lie. Be accurate and provide as much certainty and reassurance as possible and make sure you answer any questions straight away. It’s important to stay honest. At all times. Whomever you are!
Ask for feedback. Feedback benefits everyone and helps in influencing a positive and productive outcome.
Poor and thoughtless communications is the root of misunderstandings, mistakes, and dissatisfaction so it’s worth taking the time to get it right.